Scripture Reflections

March 27: Fourth Sunday in Lent

Posted by Campus Ministry on Sunday, March 27, 2022 at 9:46 AM PDT

A lit latern sits on a ledge looking out at a dark horizon, with some spots of other lights in the darkness

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Today’s parable looms so large and so poignant in our religious imagination that I tend to forget the context in which it was first spoken. Religious authorities grumbled: “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” Jesus, radically inclusive host and master storyteller, challenges those – then and now – who create firm boundaries around “us” and “them” or “lost” and “saved.” In the kin-dom of God, to which all parables point, those distinctions fade away so as to be meaningless. Accordingly, Jesus blurs the lines so that no one is outside the hopeful gaze and eager embrace of this divine parent’s compassion. 

 Let’s not forget or minimize how complicated and messy that sort of kin-dom living is, however. The parable ends on a freeze frame, a moment in time suspended between conflict and celebration. What happens next? We glimpse the potential for reconciliation, for healing, for deeper and more honest relationships, but we don’t observe the work it takes to get there. Today’s song for the Preparation of Gifts, “I Will Arise,” by Tony Alonso, demonstrates that complexity in a beautiful way. In each of the first three verses, one of the main characters speaks from their vantage point. In verse four, Alonso juxtaposes an excerpt from each one’s voice. All the while moving toward the refrain, “All will be well and all be one.” It’s unresolved and unfinished. Yet there is space in the song for each perspective to be heard. And, with God’s grace, there is a commitment to put in the work required to move towards well-being and unity that does not diminish but amplifies each one’s uniqueness. 

 Being and making kin with each other in this web of unresolved and unfinished relationships is our life’s work, and also God’s work… Between siblings and parents, between Pharisees and sinners. How is God calling you to be a minister of reconciliation? How is God calling us – as a worshipping community, as a university, as a church, as a nation – to embrace this work? 

 ~ Bill McNamara, Campus Minister for Liturgical Music