It is with both great sadness and tremendous excitement that I share the news that was broke Sunday that I am projected to move from Liberty & Post Oak United Methodist Churches in Camden, Tennessee to become the Associate Pastor at First United Methodist Church in Jackson, Tennessee.

It was only two years ago that my family packed up our stuff in Nicholasville, Kentucky to move to Camden, where we were welcomed by a remarkably hospitable community of people at these two loving churches. Liberty & Post Oak have undergone several leadership transitions in the last few years. What is a true testament to the health and resilience of these congregations is that amidst these transitions, Liberty & Post Oak have experienced growth in worship attendance, professions of faith in Christ, and increased participation in mission efforts and lay leadership, including young people who are often taking the lead in exciting new ways. It is truly difficult to leave these growing congregations when things are moving forward. But I want to commend Bishop Bill McAlilly (see his recent post about pastoral appointment announcements here) and the cabinet for identifying and sending a quality pastor here in Rev. Travis Penney, who has served as the pastor at Big Springs UMC in Hardeman County the last four years. Travis is young, energetic and eager to lead Liberty & Post Oak as they turn the page from this short chapter I have shared with them. Just as my predecessor did a great job of making my entry into this appointment quite seamless, I will do my best to do the same in working with Travis to make this transition a healthy and fruitful one!

While I will greatly miss these great folks in Camden, I am also thrilled for the opportunity to take on a new role by joining the great work that the people at First UMC in Jackson are doing by serving as their Associate Pastor. First Church is located in downtown Jackson and has recently added a campus at Andrews Chapel, which is situated just a few miles west of the downtown campus. With there being two campuses, I will still be able to preach on a weekly/regular basis and lead in worship, which is one of the most fulfilling parts of my ministry. I will also have pastoral care responsibilities, which is one of my strongest spiritual gifts, including leading Stephen Ministry. In addition, I will have opportunities once or twice per week to lead in Christian formation and discipleship by teaching classes. To go along with this, I will get to work with the Senior Pastor, Rev. Dan Camp, who is a great leader from whom I will have much to learn. One of the areas where I feel confident I will grow in this context will be in terms of administration.

This, of course, only scratches the surface of what all is going on at FUMC and I am very eager learn more of how I can and will be co-laboring with them and taking part in the great kingdom work being done in their midst! See you in June, Jackson!

A look inside the beautiful sanctuary at Jackson FUMC! (photo credit: jacksonfumc.org/about/wedding_policies)

A look inside the beautiful sanctuary at Jackson FUMC! (photo credit: jacksonfumc.org/about/wedding_policies)

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As some of you who read my blog are aware, not long ago I was a PhD student at Nazarene Theological College (accredited by The University of Manchester) in the United Kingdom. I wrote about the decision to step back from that pursuit in this post from August of 2012. What I didn’t share in that post but what has become clear since then is that there has been a transition in my research interests of a Wesleyan doctrine of the atonement from an historical quest to more of an investigation of the doctrine and its implication for the contemporary audience. In other words, I’ve been drawn to wrestle with this question: “What would a Wesleyan theology of the atonement look like in the church?” I think this transition has been quite natural given the shift in my vocational path from the classroom to the pulpit.

Several people in the churches I am serving have been made aware of this shift and of my continued interest in the subject. So when a couple from Liberty UMC went with Carrie and me to the opening weekend of the Generative Leadership Academy, and we were challenged to do some sort of Lenten project, they asked me about the possibility of my leading a study on the atonement during the Lenten season. It seemed like an ideal time to talk about such a topic. Lent is about the journey to the cross. Jesus’ sacrificial death there is at the heart of what we mean when we talk about the atonement. Sure, let’s do this! In my mind (and in my saved files) I had a structure in mind for how the study might go if we broke it up into a weekly study, so we began making plans on making this idea a reality.

We talked about the nature of Lent, how it is a season of ‘fasting’ for 40 days, excepting Sundays which are days when most observers of Lent are encouraged or at least permitted to ‘break’ their fast (otherwise the fast is 46 days, in total). And as you can easily discern, the meaning of the word that describes our first meal of the day is derived from this very sort of practice (break-fast). So we thought an ideal pairing would be to have a breakfast meal before each session of the study. The trouble is, however, that Sunday morning breakfasts at Liberty UMC are not feasible as the first worship service I lead is at the other church to which I am appointed, Post Oak UMC. So we talked about other days when a breakfast meal would provide an opportunity for people to participate in the study. That’s how we arrived at Saturdays, when most people are off work, and we wouldn’t have to make it too early (we’re set to begin at 9:30am each week).

I’m really excited about this study and it seems to have garnered a good deal of interest from lots of people in the church as the sign-up list has grown over the weeks that we have announced it, and I’m aware of neighboring churches advertising it and that we’ll have outside participation as well. My hope is that we as United Methodists can discover how this central doctrine to our faith is related to the rest of it and how the atonement in Christ can be seen as the shape of how God’s grace is made known in the world and in our lives.

Image created by the folks at memphis-umc.net

Image created by the folks at memphis-umc.net

So if you are anywhere near Camden and have an interest in the doctrine of the atonement can be seen through the lens of Wesleyan/United Methodist way of being a follower of the Christ, or if you just like to eat breakfast with other people, I encourage you to join us on Saturdays in Lent at Liberty UMC at 9:30am. The first breakfast (March 8) will begin in the Wrather auditorium, which will require your entrance through the sanctuary. (We’ll have signs and people pointing the way.) The remaining breakfasts will be served in the fellowship hall. All of the sessions for the study itself will be in the sanctuary. Come and join us! (If you’re not able to join us, I plan on sharing highlights here when possible.) The address for Liberty UMC: 3135 Highway 69A, Camden, TN 38320.

May God guide us in our quest this Lenten season as we journey to the cross!

Yesterday was the homecoming & memorial day service for Liberty UMC. Below is the script from which I shared.

Scripture text – 2 Corinthians 3:16-17

“…where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty…”

I sat down and read a lot about the history of Liberty UMC this week and have found myself chuckling at some stories, scratching my head at others, wondering about some of the missing details, and weeping tears of empathy at those confessing deep pain and loss. In a world of brokenness like ours, any story worth telling will be filled with the message of redemption that is brought through pain.

But one story that stands out in particular is the story of the roof of the church catching on fire one cold Sunday in March of 1928 when Liberty was a wooden building. The details of how certain people went to great lengths to keep the fire and damage to a minimum are awe-inspiring in some parts and kind of comical at others. But I thought the closing reflection of the story said it well…

“Some members had thought it much too cold to walk to church on that day, but somehow before the fire was brought under control, the church yard was full of people and in those days, communications was limited to just a few battery operated phones. Someone made the remark, ‘Maybe we should set a fire to the roof every Sunday if it will draw a crowd this large’.”

Well, as I look out over this crowd I just might say, “Maybe we should have a homecoming & memorial day every Sunday if it will draw a crowd this large!” I really am not interested in setting the roof on fire.

“…where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty…”

Have you ever just paused and thought about the name of this church? It’s really a great name. Liberty. What comes to your mind when you hear the word “liberty”?

I asked this question to F.W. and H.P., two of our most faithful members who are now home-bound or at the nursing home. Before sharing a story or two about their experience at the church, they both said the same word came to mind when they hear “liberty” and that word is freedom.

In fact freedom is the word that is used in most English translations of our passage this morning: “…where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom…”

But what else comes to mind when you hear the word “liberty”? Perhaps the infamous Liberty Bell. What is the distinguishing mark of the Liberty Bell?

Liberty Bell (photo credit: wikipedia)

Liberty Bell (photo credit: wikipedia)

The crack in it, right? Of course, that mark can serve as a good reminder that what is required for liberty, or freedom, comes at a great cost and often leaves its scars. Even the resurrected body of Jesus still had the scars from the nails in his hands and feet as well as from the spear in his side.

Or maybe you’re a wordsmith and famous lines containing “liberty” are more likely to stand out. Like famous statement by Patrick Henry? “I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty, or give me death!” Or perhaps what is found in the Declaration of Independence? “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights; that among them are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

What other sounds or images of “liberty” come to mind for those of us living in the U.S.? Probably the Statue of Liberty. She really is a fine statue, but have you ever considered the irony, the contradiction, in the title? Think about it. A statue is something that is permanent, something fixed, something that is not living, that is, something that is not really “free” yet the word “liberty” itself means freedom. But as I pondered the apparent contradiction of that term, “Statue of Liberty” my mind was taken to some words offered by John Wesley.

Wesley wrote a collection of prayers for individuals, families, and children for morning and evening, each day of the week. His Thursday evening prayer for families begins this way: “O LORD our GOD, thy glory is above all our thoughts, and thy mercy is over all thy works. We are still living monuments of thy mercy; for you have not cut us off in our sins, but still give us a good hope, and strong consolation through grace. You have sent thy only Son into the world, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish in his sins, but have everlasting life.”

I like that. We are “…living monuments of God’s mercy…” or to put another way, “…living monuments of liberty…” I looked out over our cemetery this week and saw all the monuments identifying who is buried by each one. The stones and their engravings are there for our remembrance, that we may recall the faithfulness of God in the lives of our forefathers and foremothers. That is, we remember that God is faithful to bring liberty, or freedom, to God’s children. And as I looked over those monuments of God’s mercy, I realized that the act of remembering our past is an extremely important task for we who seek to follow Christ. Consider that in establishing the meal of the new covenant, Jesus said, “When you eat this bread and drink this cup, remember me.” Remembrance is a necessary act for Christians. For if we look or move toward the future without acknowledging God’s faithfulness in the past (and present), then we would be performing an exercise of futility.

This day, we remember and celebrate the liberty that God has wrought in the great work of our redemption in Christ. Liberty is at the heart of Jesus’ mission statement. In Jesus’ first sermon recorded in Luke (4:16ff.), he is reading from Isaiah in worship in the synagogue and he applies this statement to himself: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed…”

“…to proclaim liberty to the captives…” That would be a great vision for a church, wouldn’t it? “…to proclaim liberty to the captives…”

Hobart & Hazel Hargis were one of four couples who had been married for over 50 years when a history of Liberty UMC was written in 1984 for the Bicentennial celebration of when the Methodist Episcopal Church was established, which was in 1784. For the bicentennial, each couple that had been married over 50 years was asked several questions about their married lives, what advice they would pass onto younger couples, etc. They were also asked what their biggest crisis was over the course of their marriage. To this question, Hobart & Hazel responded that theirs was the long illness of their baby and being able to finally hear its cry.

I’m unsure of exactly the nature of that illness as there were no further details of the story in what I read, but it sounds to me like the type of longing expectation to be fulfilled like one who has been captive to be set at liberty. Ever had a nightmare where you’re trying to cry for help but have no voice? Then when you wake up, there is this great sigh of relief…you’re free. This baby’s voice and health was seemingly held captive, but after a long struggle, was set free. That’s an image of liberty.

“…to proclaim liberty to the captives…” More recently, we’ve had people join the church in the past few years who in the past were held captive in various ways: by addictions, by debt, by guilt. And they have found a home in liberty, both in this church that bears the name and in the glorious liberty of knowing the freedom in Christ from being held in bondage.

“…to proclaim liberty to the captives…” I look out over this congregation and I see living monuments of God’s mercy and Christ’s great act of liberty. I see the Spirit of the Lord, that is the Spirit of Christ, and Paul says wherever that Spirit is, there is liberty. And we have been set at liberty, that is, we have been set free to join Christ’s great mission “…to proclaim liberty to the captives…” If God has been faithful thus far, imagine what greater things God has in store if we will but live into this mission of proclaiming liberty to the captives.

"...my chains fell off..." (photo credit: @chainsbroken on twitter.com)

“…my chains fell off…” (photo credit: @chainsbroken on twitter.com)

I close with an image of liberty that I have found quite powerful. My favorite hymn by Charles Wesley is ‘And Can It Be That I Should Gain’ which is #363 in our hymnal. It is filled with some of the greatest language describing God’s free(ing) grace. Verse 4 has long been my favorite and it goes like this:

Long my imprisoned spirit lay,
Fast bound in sin and nature’s night;
Thine eye diffused a quickening ray;
I woke, the dungeon flamed with light;
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed thee.
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed thee.

We had been locked in a dungeon, bound in darkness and sin. But when we allow Christ to shed light to pierce the darkness and to break those chains that have held us in bondage, then we will know what liberty truly means as we will be free to follow this Christ who has set us free.

Disclaimer: prepare for a little satire…

“Set yourself on fire (with enthusiasm) and people will come for miles to watch you burn.” – Someone other than John Wesley. You may have seen this line or something similar attributed to the Rev. Wesley but it is not something he ever wrote and the language sounds out of place for an 18th century Anglican clergyman, even one who was at times accused of being an “enthusiast.” Even though there is no evidence to show the co-founder of Methodism ever said such a statement, I think that I may have come across why this quote has been associated with the ecclesial traditions bearing the theology of the original Methodist.

This upcoming Sunday is the Homecoming/Memorial Day Service for Liberty United Methodist Church in Camden, Tennessee, which is one of the churches to which I am currently appointed as pastor.

Current picture of Liberty UMC in Camden, Tennessee.

Current picture of Liberty UMC in Camden, Tennessee.

And as this is my first year there, the tradition holds that I am to be the bearer of the homecoming message. So I’ve spent a good amount of time hearing and reading accounts from the history of Liberty UMC’s life up to this present day. Some parts are fuzzier than others, but the details in a story entitled “An Unusual Sunday at Liberty Methodist Church” are quite specific. You see on a cold Sunday morning in March of 1928, there was a fire that threatened to consume the old wooden church building. A person driving by the church noticed smoke coming from the building and announced, “The church is on fire!” There was an immediate commotion and a very risky and enthusiastic attempt by two brave men to put the fire out, which only threatened a portion of the ceiling. Their attempt was successful and the fire was extinguished, but by the time it had fizzled out, there was a very large crowd gathered outside the building, greatly exceeding the normal attendance for worship. The reflection I read says it all:

Some members had thought it much too cold to walk to church on that day, but somehow before the fire was brought under control, the church yard was full of people and in those days, communications was limited to just a few battery operated phones. Someone made the remark, “Maybe we should set a fire to the roof every Sunday if it will draw a crowd this large.”

So maybe it was more like advice to the church that says, “Set your(roof) on fire and people will come for miles to watch (it) burn.”

Nah…

The story is true though. Hope to see you Sunday!

Last year saw perhaps the most poetic placement of Palm Sunday: it fell on April Fools’ Day. Remember? I remember it because it was the one opportunity I was given to preach on a Sunday morning at Nicholasville UMC in Kentucky. But even more so, I remember because of the irony of celebrating the fool in all of us on a day when the people in Jerusalem fell for the right person but had the wrong expectations of him. Or, as my friend Phil Tallon said it, “Today we celebrate Jesus saying April Fools to Israel’s militaristic messianic conceptions.”

Those are the thoughts that dwelt on my mind this morning as I stepped outside to burn the palm fronds used in last year’s Palm Sunday festivities at Liberty & Post Oak that were graciously handed down to me from my predecessor, Joey Reed.

Last year's palms = this year's ashes

Last year’s palms = this year’s ashes

Until last year, I wasn’t aware of the longstanding tradition of burning the previous year’s palm leaves to be imposed during the Ash Wednesday service of the following year. But when I discovered it, and found out I was being sent to Liberty & Post Oak, asking for these was one of the first things I did in my correspondence with Joey prior to moving here. Nicholasville had a practice where they had burnt sheets of paper from the previous year in a ceremony where the congregation was invited to write down their struggles, pains, sins, and so on, and nail them to the cross on Good Friday. There are a few good ways that can convey significant meaning for the community that practices these ceremonies and services.

I wanted this one, at least for this year, because of Palm Sunday’s alignment with April Fools’ Day last year. Each year on that day we cry aloud, “Hosanna in the highest!” But as the rest of that week unfolds, we discover anew that Jesus saves us in the highest only because he descended to the lowest…and that went even deeper than riding a donkey, which the crowds thought was humbling enough for a conquering deliverer. But like us, Jesus too went to the dust and tasted death with us. “…and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross” as St. Paul would later write.

Many of my friends are aware that I am a fan of the musical band Mumford & Sons. They released an album in 2012 called ‘Babel,’ which won the Album of the Year on the Grammy Awards. Upon my first couple of times listening through the album, I was drawn toward the song ‘Lovers’ Eyes,’ unsure of what story or concepts were behind his writing of the lyrics. But after listening and reading through the lyrics a few times, he is telling a powerful story reflecting on the past and even expresses a repentant spirit when he writes, “Should you shake my ash to the wind, Lord forget all of my sins; well, let me die where I lie.” Those lyrics have played over and over in my mind as I’ve prepared for this Ash Wednesday, dwelling upon the themes of forgiveness, repentance, self-denial, and death, which will continue to play all throughout this Lenten season.

Lord, forget and forgive all of my sins, including those of false presumptions thinking I knew better than you how you should save the world (and me). I will “Remember that [I am] dust and to dust [I] shall return.”

I want your feedback and/or help on this. I’m still in the early stages of developing this, but am in the process of putting together a “dream team” for each of the two churches to which I am currently appointed. No, I’m not speaking of finding a way to bring the 1992 US men’s Olympic basketball team to Camden, Tennessee.

Probably the greatest basketball team that ever competed. Front row (L to R): Clyde Drexler, Scottie Pippen, John Stockton, Karl Malone, Charles Barkley; Second row (L to R): Larry Bird, Chris Mullin, Michael Jordan; Third row (L to R): Christian Laettner (ugh, I can't believe I am actually inserting a picture including him into a post on my blog...after what he did to my beloved Kentucky Wildcats on that fateful night in 1992), Patrick Ewing, Magic Johnson, David Robinson. Photo credit: hypervocal.com

Probably the greatest basketball team that ever competed. Front row (L to R): Clyde Drexler, Scottie Pippen, John Stockton, Karl Malone, Charles Barkley; Second row (L to R): Larry Bird, Chris Mullin, Michael Jordan; Third row (L to R): Christian Laettner (ugh, I can’t believe I am actually inserting a picture including him into a post on my blog…after what he did to my beloved Kentucky Wildcats on that fateful night in 1992), Patrick Ewing, Magic Johnson, David Robinson. Photo credit: hypervocal.com

No, it’s not ^^that^^ kind of dream team I’m speaking of. Instead, I’m talking about putting together a group of 10-15 persons at each church to begin making dreams for the next 5, 10, 20…years.

Last week, 75 young clergy in the Memphis and Tennessee Annual Conferences of The United Methodist Church met in Dickson along with our new(ish) bishop Bill McAlilly. The event was sponsored by the Turner Center for Church Leadership & Congregational Development, which particularly is honing in on training young clergy for leadership as the dynamics of our culture(s) continue to change. At the conference, we explored the tension between the emphases of mission laid forth in Matthew 25:31-46 & Matthew 28:16-20 and how we as leaders could assist our congregations in developing their own identities in relation to their own mission fields. (A lingering question I had but never asked aloud was about the nature of the relationship between the narrative content in between those passages and the missional focus of the passages we did explore. In other words: What, if anything, is the relationship between the Passion & Resurrection narrative and our mission as the Church? I like where that question could take a discussion, but I’ll have to explore that in more detail in another post at another time.)

Although the picture we’ve been given about the status of the UMC is quite bleak, I left the conference hopeful that God has greater things in store for the United Methodist Church(es) in the Memphis & Tennessee Conferences, even as I was unsure specifically how I would begin to steer the churches to which I am appointed in the direction of discovering our identities & visions and how those relate to the mission field around us.

On the day following, Carrie and I took a trip to Jackson to get some much needed household items. Instead of taking the usual way home on Interstate 40, we drove the scenic route of US 70 all the way to Camden. It was nice for a change and only took an additional five or so minutes to get home than the normal route. On our way home, I began to share with Carrie processing through the gist of the conference I attended at Dickson and seeing how I might begin to raise questions to the folks at Liberty & Post Oak about our future. Within minutes we were talking about what it would look like to bring several youth & young adults and an accompanying older adult or two together and dream big about what God might want to do through us.

That was Saturday and I already knew that a council meeting was set for the next day at Liberty, which would be the perfect time to officially pitch the idea to the key leaders. I also went ahead and started planting the seed to a few people before the service at Post Oak and got a council meeting scheduled for a couple of weeks from now where I’ll share more with them there (for those who won’t have read this blog post anyway 🙂 ). I got some good feedback there and then when I got to Liberty for worship, I pulled my lay leader and council chairperson aside to very briefly introduce it and ask for it to be on the agenda, which was warmly granted.

At the council meeting I introduced the seed ideas of what I was wanting to do and the initial questions that I’d like to be discussed in the group. The only question I was asked was, “Are you going to spearhead it?” I answered, “Of course! But I want you to know that I don’t plan on having all the answers. I just want to ask a series of questions that we will uncover together through prayer, discussion, study, and discernment what we perceive God asking us to do.” My desire is for the churches to come up with an answer to this family of questions: What do you want [name of church] to look like in 5 years? 10 years? 20 years?

And here’s how I need your help/feedback, which I asked for at the beginning of the post. To answer the main question, there are a number of other questions that will need to be considered. Some big questions that obviously need to be addressed are the theological & missional ones:

  • Who is God?
  • Who are we?
  • How has God created and inhabited our story at [name of church]?
  • Who are our neighbors?

But then there are some more specific questions. Here are some that I see as vital for my churches to be asked in uncovering a vision for how best “to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world” (as is our mission as United Methodists) in our local context. You’ll notice that the questions provide the opportunity for the people to dream BIG dreams. And for a people who believe in a God of extravagant grace, why not push the limits? So:

  • If you had no fear of failure, what would you like to see done in this church? in this community?
  • If money were not an issue, what changes would you make or things would you add to the life of this church?
  • Is there any unused space on the premises? If so, how can the space(s) be used again?
  • What needs of the community are not being met well or at all?
  • What ways, if any, can we work with area schools, like tutoring, backpack programs, etc.?

Those are just a few. Can you help me think of other questions? Comment below and let me know!

One of the most popular shows on Food Network is Iron Chef America. On each episode an esteemed chef in some exotic or specialty restaurant somewhere in America challenges one of the “iron chefs” to a cook-off, in which the challenger and the iron chef each build a 5-course meal around a “secret ingredient,” which has to be present in each of the dishes. This can get really interesting when chefs have to decide whether they want to push the envelope on coming up with something creative for a dessert when the secret ingredient is something that is not generally associated with a dish that would round off the meal nicely. Anybody in the mood for some lobster ice cream? No, thanks.

But often times, one of the chefs will dedicate one of the courses to promote a variety of ways a single item can be prepared and served on the same plate. Hence, the judges for the competition may be served, “Tuna: Three Ways” when the secret ingredient is tuna.

An example of yellow fin tuna prepared “three ways”; photo credit: tuvoweb.com

As the parable of the father and his two sons (see Luke 15:11-32) has been unfolding this week in revival at Liberty UMC, and in particular how the elder son shows his unwillingness to forgive and embrace his returning younger brother, I began to consider the various ways in which we tend to serve up our forgiveness to those on whom we’re called to show mercy. In the heat of the moment when someone has wronged me and I’m particularly peeved about it, here is the course I am tempted to serve up called, “Forgiveness: Three Ways”…

The first way I’ve prepared it is with a hint of sourness that will remind you that forgiveness isn’t always a sweet thing. When you bite into it, you’ll be reminded of the fact that I told you so. I told you that if you went down that road, you’d get hurt, but you didn’t listen, so now you get to taste some of the taste I’ve gotten to enjoy these last few years. So yes, I forgive you, but admit that I was right! Enjoy!

The second way I’ve cooked up this dish is perhaps something you’re used to hearing and may sound a little bitter, but I really don’t care. It’s the “I’ll forgive you, but only because I have to” method. I do want to let you know that even though I am required to love you and forgive you, I don’t have to like it or like you, for that matter. Cheers!

The final way I’ve prepared forgiveness is packed with a little extra kick that you don’t realize is there until a few bites later. I call it the warning of what’s to come if you try to hurt me again. I like to live by the phrase “fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.” Well, I don’t want to be shamed, so I’ll let you know that I’m not gonna put up with any nonsense again. Bon appetit!

Now contrast that course with this one…

“I saw you and was moved with compassion. I ran to you, hugged you, and kissed you. Then you said to me, ‘I have sinned against heaven and against you. I no longer deserve…’ But I said to others, ‘Quickly, bring out the best robe and put it on him! Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet! Fetch the fattened calf and slaughter it. We must celebrate with feasting because this person was dead and has come back to life! This person was lost and is found!’ And we began to celebrate.” (Luke 15:20-24, reworded)

Rembrandt’s oil painting is more well known than this one, but this drawing was also done by Rembrandt, with pen & brush and is another wonderful portrait of the loving embrace of the father with his returning son. Photo credit: wikipedia.org