Last Sunday we explored the first half of the parable Jesus tells about a father and two sons. Known by many as the “Prodigal Son” due to the younger son’s wild and lavish way of going through his inheritance, the story also depicts a prodigal father, who is wild and lavish in love and grace towards us in every circumstance.
The point Jesus appears to be making is that the Kingdom of God is like this father—full of abundant love and grace that surrounds us when we feel near or when we feel far off; when we are doing what is right and when we are doing what is less than helpful or healthy.
But it strikes me that one piece of this abundant love God shows—if indeed God is like that father in Jesus’ parable—is a feeling many often find uncomfortable: grief.
The father must grieve when this younger son asks for his inheritance early (since it’s tantamount to saying “Dad I wish you were dead.”). He must grieve each day without his son, each day on which he keeps watch and is disappointed when his son does not come home. He also grieves (as we will see this coming Sunday) when his older son cannot receive his brother and refuses to in the party. Amid the rush of joy that occurs in the story, we should not forget the hum of grief that is also present in it all along.
Grief’s proximity to this story suggests that grief is not the adversary we often experience it as. It is a natural by-product often of the love we have for others, of the importance of a relationship that is now in need of seem from of mending. If we did not love much, the pain would be not so great.
Scripture reveals this truth in various ways—in Psalms of Lament, in God’s grief at the people’s refusal to follow in the ways of justice and love, in Jesus‘ weeping at the death of Lazarus, in the death and resurrection of Jesus, in Paul’s insistence that the Spirit intercedes with “sighs too deep for words.” Love and grief themselves are brothers and key components of what it means to live and share the good news of Jesus Christ.
Why bring this up now? Well, in part because on August 5, our Wellness Activities Ministry is hosting a workshop focused on grief. Hosted by Ruth Cooper a Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor associate will facilitate this gathering. You can see a promotional image below.
Please share news of this activity with family, friends, and neighbors. Because the truth is every one of us could probably be a little better at handling this feeling and understanding its weight. All of us could be blessed by seeing how grief and love connect and overlap in us and in the heart of God.
May that heart of God full you this day!
*In-Person/Livestream Worship: Join us each Sunday at 11:00 am in person or online (via Facebook live) for worship!
Online participation via Facebook Live: https://www.facebook.com/firstpresbyterianchurchofgarner
See our service from July 9, “Wild and Lavish”:
Garner Area Ministry URGENT NEED: In June, FPCoG contributed 424lbs of food to Gam to help alleviate food insecurity in our community. The shelves need to remain stocked though! Please bring donations of ANY and ALL non-perishable food items to the church or directly to GAM in the coming days, weeks, and months.
*Town of Garner Freedom Celebration: Garner’s annual Freedom celebration which began, on Saturday, June 17, at the GPAC with a program of music and storytelling commemorating Juneteenth, continues with the annual Independence Day festival and fireworks at Lake Benson Park on July 3rd.
More information on both events can be found at the following links:
*CHRISTMAS IN JULY: The silent auction fundraiser will be held on July 22nd at 2pm in the fellowship hall. Anyone interested in donating items for the event may contact Deb Wallace or any member of the Lillie Circle. The fundraiser proceeds will be going towards replacing the sound system in the fellowship hall. Everyone is invited to attend. Refreshments will be served and there may be a few surprises thrown in. Please invite your friends and children to attend as there will be something for all to enjoy.
*Faith Fest is July 23, 24, 25 5:30pm-7:30pm. See this link for more details!
On Tuesday of Faith Fest, we will participate in a number of mission projects including one for Wake County Animal Shelter. Please consider donating an item from the following list:
- New or lightly used blankets or large towels.
- Canned dog, cat, puppy, or kitten food
- Dry dog, cat, puppy, or kitten food
- Little critter food (rat, rabbit, ferret, guinea pig)
- New or lightly used indestructible toys in LARGE sizes (such as Kongs or Nylabones)
- Kitty litter
- Soft cat treats
- Dog treats
*Walking Group: The Walking Group meets each Tuesday weather permitting. During these warmer months, please take precautions and stay hydrated! Because it has more shade, the group will return to walking at Lake Benson Park until the fall. The group meets weekly at 6:00pm
*2023 Vision Update: Our Group is now set and meeting! Thanks be to God for Elders Deb Wallace and Megan Snapp, Deacon Regina Ekoule, and at large members Kathy Blue, Sandy Lee, Joe Prater, and Ken Summerville for being part of this work. They will not be alone though as the whole congregation will have the opportunity to offer feedback and ideas as we discern together what God is calling us to be and do in 2023 and beyond. Please pray for this process to be faithful and fruitful.
*Share FPCoG with Each Other and Our Neighbors! FPCoG is an active church! To help others know this (and to stay up to date yourself), please consider following and asking others to follow us on Facebook or Instagram!