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“I’m going back to my father. I’ll say to him, Father, I’ve sinned against God, I’ve sinned before you; I don’t deserve to be called your son. Take me on as a hired hand.’ He got right up and went home to his father. When he was still a long way off, his father saw him. His heart pounding, he ran out, embraced him, and kissed him. The son started his speech: ‘Father, I’ve sinned against God, I’ve sinned before you; I don’t deserve to be called your son ever again.’ But the father wasn’t listening. He was calling to the servants, ‘Quick. Bring a clean set of clothes and dress him. Put the family ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. ”
based on Luke 15:1-3;11-32 The Message
“Welcome Home . . .”
A snippet into this Coming Sunday’s Sermon
by Rev. Rick Pittenger
The kids have all now headed back to school for another year. Pictures abound on FB of mortified youngsters dressed in their new clothes with backpacks in tow as they stand on the front steps of their home, or sidewalk or driveway. The traditions continue… it is the cycle of life.
My sister-in-law Marlyce is a retired school teacher in Denver, CO. She sent me the following via FaceBook the other day. Apparently it was published in Reader’s Digest… about the mom who was having trouble tutoring her son Chase in MATH so she asked her son’s teacher for help. The teacher was more than gracious, so they set up a time after school one day to “bring mom up to speed” on 5th grade math. The mother said the teacher formerly worked at NASA so they had a lot in common… I think that was a joke. After her lesson sitting in the 5th grade classroom… the teacher explained:
Every Friday afternoon, she asks her students to take out a piece of paper and write down the names of four children with whom they’d like to sit the following week. The children know that these requests may or may not be honored. She also asks the students to nominate one student who they believe has been an exceptional classroom citizen that week. All ballots are privately submitted to her.
And every single Friday afternoon, after the students go home, she takes out those slips of paper, places them in front of her, and studies them. She looks for patterns.
Who is not getting requested by anyone else?
Who can’t think of anyone to request?
Who never gets noticed enough to be nominated?
Who had a million friends last week and none this week?
You see, Chase’s teacher is not looking for a new seating chart or “exceptional citizens.” Chase’s teacher is looking for lonely children. She’s looking for children who are struggling to connect with other children. She’s identifying the little ones who are falling through the cracks of the class’s social life. She is discovering whose gifts are going unnoticed by their peers. And she’s pinning down—right away—who’s being bullied and who is doing the bullying. If you want to know the rest of the story… I’ll see you in church Sunday.
I got to thinking about this teacher's idea; I mean, in addition to every school classroom, this idea could work in the church as well as in any work place. Think about it with me for just a moment; when you arrive in a meeting, or a classroom, or a sanctuary; who do you like to sit by and why? Granted we’re creatures of habit; I think it’s pretty clear about that… think about times you find a place to sit. Are you the kind of person that likes to sit alone or at the head of the table? Does it have anything to do with how others near you interact with you?
I’ll be talking about the need to be needed and to feel welcomed in church this Sunday… let’s practice hospitality this and every Sunday! OK, then again, let’s try it every day … it’s about Grace. Grace is not something deserved but we all need it and we all should receive it in abundance.
It’s what happens at the end of each school day for elementary children… they are welcomed home! In the church; although some have never left; some folks are returning to their favorite pews... join us as we discover the lessons of life together... Welcome Home...
The cycle of life continues…Jesus told this parable about the man who had two sons…
See you Sunday,