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4th Sunday of Lent

Full to the Brim: Prodigal Grace

Commentary by Rev. Ashley DeTar Birt

Everyone has something that challenges them, pushes them in a way that is ultimately good for them but perhaps they weren’t quite ready for. These things often help us grow as people and

teach us important lessons, even if we struggle with them. For some people, it’s a person—maybe a teacher, or a classmate, or a coach. For others, it’s an experience—maybe a book that brought about new ideas, or a trip that didn’t go as planned, or an assignment with an unexpected level of difficulty. For a very long time, my challenge was the Parable of the Prodigal Son.

I don’t think I’m the only person who has ever struggled with this parable. No matter where we see ourselves in this story—as the younger son, the older son, or even as the father—it can be challenging to sympathize with everyone. Why would the younger son take so much—half of the estate—from his father, only to waste it? Why wouldn’t the older son celebrate the fact that his brother is back? Why wouldn’t the father (or anyone, for that matter) bother to tell the older son what’s going on? Trying to make sense of these characters was hard for me, but what I eventually came to realize is that every single one of them, regardless of what they’ve done, receives grace. Both sons, one wasteful and one frustrated, receive the grace of their father, and even the father (who could, but isn’t explicitly said to, represent God) experiences grace in his interactions with his sons. No one earns it, but rather it is something they

experience together. Once I understood this, I began to feel the grace this parable extends in my own life. There’s no limit to the grace we can experience with God because God puts no limits on grace. Our lives can be big, full, messy, complicated, imperfect, a wreck, and God’s grace will still be there.

Go forth and experience God’s grace in the people in your life, without limits.


Upcoming Events

Sunday, 3/27:

9:00 a.m.: Children's Sunday School for Lent

9:00 a.m.: Witness at the Cross Lenten Study

9:00 a.m.: Chancel Choir

10:30 a.m.: Worship Service

Monday, 3/28:

11:00 a.m.: Witness at the Cross Lenten Study via Zoom

Sunday, 4/3:

9:00 a.m.: Children's Sunday School for Lent

9:00 a.m.: Witness at the Cross Lenten Study

9:00 a.m.: Chancel Choir

10:30 a.m.: Worship Service



by Rev. Sarah Speed

First came the taking,

the leaving,

the wandering.

Then came the using,

the wasting,

the losing.

Next came the knowing,

the grieving,

the returning.

And then the father

ran to his son

and put his arms around him.

It breaks the rhythm.

Grace always does.


Inexplicable Joy

by Hannah Garrity | Inspired by Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32

Full to the brim with joy. An existential crisis, like the last two years of the COVID pandemic, helps us all to appreciate the joy with which the father of the prodigal son celebrates.

This image depicts the joyful motion of a party, the lights in particular. The lines in this stained glass window design are inspired by photographs of light glowing and moving, dancing in the night. In the center circle, the shadow of a dancing silhouette repeats, echoing the way that we see figures move in two dimensions in the light of the night. In the corners of the window frame, architectural motifs that historically represent the Holy Trinity reflect the light as though shining themselves.

Thinking about an expansive Lent as I worked on this paper lace, this image became all about joy. Joy that is misunderstood. Joy as an act of resistance. Inexplicable joy. In an expansive understanding, the joy that the father is experiencing makes sense. He shows an uncharacteristic willingness to celebrate inexplicably with joy.

How can we notice and give grace to those who are experiencing inexplicable joy—particularly when it is an act of resistance? Where can we enter into their joy? Where in our own lives can we celebrate despite the incongruence of joy and pain, joy and discord, joy and anger?

—Hannah Garrity


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