A worship service- Three prisoners: A meditation on the story of the prodigal son

by Ken J. Nafziger

This worship service, based on the story of the prodigal son in Luke 15:11–32, explores ways in which we experience various kinds of imprisonments. You may want to include portions of poetry from Yahweh’s Other Shoe by Kilian McDonnell, St. John’s University Press, 2006.

Opening hymn

HWB 139        Far, far away

Sung by a soloist with guitar accompaniment; all join in on refrains.

Imprisoned by impatience and greed

A short meditation on impatience and greed as imprisonments, ending with a prayer of      understanding and forgiveness.

Repeat “Far, far away” refrain several more times.

Silence.

 Imprisoned by pride and arrogance

A short meditation on pride and arrogance as imprisonments, ending with a prayer of        understanding and forgiveness.

Sing “When from the darkness” (STJ 102).

Silence.

 Imprisoned by love

A short meditation on the desire to be imprisoned by love, giving thanks for God’s love that holds us fast, ending with a prayer of thanksgiving.

Sing “There’s a wideness in God’s mercy” (HWB 145).

Silence.

Closing prayer

Suggestions for shaping the prayer:
STS 163: Lord, on the way to goodness…
The following quote by Reinhold Niebuhr:

Nothing that is worth doing can be achieved in our lifetime;
therefore, we must be saved by hope.
Nothing which is true or beautiful or good
makes complete sense in any immediate context of history;
therefore, we must be saved by faith.
Nothing we do, however virtuous, could be accomplished alone;
therefore, we must be saved by love.
No virtuous act is quite as virtuous
from the standpoint of our friend or foe as it is from our own standpoint;
therefore, we must be saved by the final form of love, which is forgiveness.

These words of forgiveness from “A Prayer for Forgiving Oneself”
(ExploreFaith.org, Copyright © 1999 – 2007):

Remind me that refusing to forgive myself
only keeps me from experiencing [your] newness.
Assure me of the truth that by casting “my sins into the depth of the sea,”
you have freed me to discard them myself
and live the next moment as if it were my first–
for indeed it is.
I ask this for the sake of your love.

Closing hymn

STS 58                        O God, how we have wandered

 

Ken Nafziger is professor of music at Eastern Mennonite University.

 

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