by Sieger Koder

Today’s Bible reading

“Now his older son was in the field. As he came and approached the house, he heard music and dancing. So he called one of the slaves and asked what was happening. The slave replied, ‘Your brother has returned, and your father has killed the fattened calf because he got his son back safe and sound.’ But the older son became angry and refused to go in. His father came out and appealed to him, but he answered his father, ‘Look! These many years I have worked like a slave for you, and I never disobeyed your commands. Yet you never gave me even a goat so that I could celebrate with my friends! But when this son of yours came back, who has devoured your assets with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him!’ Then the father said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and everything that belongs to me is yours. It was appropriate to celebrate and be glad, for your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost and is found.’” — Luke 15:25-32

More thoughts for meditation

It can be easy for a Christian to fall to the same temptation as the older brother did in the story above. We can misread the father’s commands for a contract made up of if/then expectations rather than covenant founded on agreements and based in relationship. Depending on how Jesus’s demands are communicated  you might be hearing his words without love or relationship. But being a disciple of Jesus or a citizen in the society of God is not about a contract with rules but a covenant in love.

Throughout this week we have been tracking through the chapters 14, 15, and 16 in Luke’s Gospel. A common theme that has surfaced. Jesus demonstrates a gathering and scattering rhythm that his followers should imitate. What that looks like is people being reconciled to God and things becoming right-er in the world followed by celebration. Then the cycle repeats. The celebration is a crucial part of our life together. Work should never get in the way of our compulsion to celebrate.

That is why we’ve built rhythms into our year. Each quarter we celebrate our covenant and the newest members added our Jesus family at the love feast. Our singing, dancing, and feasting is as natural an expression of our participation with God as our inviting, protesting, and fasting. Our love feasts are a time to celebrate the love of God expressed among us. Then the cycle repeats. 

Compelled and compelling by love, the Spirit of God is keeping us moving. We gather together with our Good Shepherd and follow him back out from the pasture to the places where other sheep are waiting to be found.

Suggestions for action 

But what about during a global quarantine? How do we celebrate? How do we gather or scatter? Where is Jesus in all of this? The question we’re asking this season is: how and where is the spirit of God bringing resurrection? 

Reflect on those questions. Did one of them stick out to you? Take a few minutes to pray using our breath prayer for this week: Breathe in saying, “Holy Spirit” and breathe out saying, “open my heart to your love.”