Claim on Jesus

A call to worship and litany, inspired by Luke 15:11b-32 ("The prodigal son" parable)

by Ken Sehested

Call to worship

It has been said: Our weakness is our only claim on Jesus. “Come to me, you who are weary. . . . For my yoke is light” (Mt. 11:28, 30).

“Aha!” you say. “Just as I suspected. What God really wants is to keep us subservient and dependent! On our knees, rather than on our own two feet. This religion business is nothing more than a form of social control—with leaders, pretending to speak for God, slyly bolstering their own exploiting power.”

If that were true, I would say: This “Master” must die if we are to find our freedom. This “God” is nothing but a pimp and his disciples are but hustlers.

But something else is at stake—something so subtle that it cannot be said directly but only ironically.

Rather than slavery, this “weakness” is the key to freedom,
        •to strength,
        •to security,
        •to maturity.

Acknowledging weakness means abandoning self-absorbed life:
        •being full of ourselves is what makes prodigals of us all;
        •service to the god of maximum return is what perpetuates poverty;
        •confidence in the redemptive power of violence is what authorizes the gods of vengeance;
        •obsession with security is the engine of enmity and the impetus  to impotence.

Confession is arduous and inconvenient precisely because we must first grow “weary” of these illusions of power. Exhaustion ushers us to the door of weakness and weariness—and, for those with eyes to see, a Way opens to deliverance.

It was said of Jesus that he relinquished privilege, embraced weakness, took the form of a servant—all for the sake of restoring God’s Beloved Community (cf. Phil. 2:6-8). To be a follower of Jesus is to enter the same drama. Such weakness includes:
        •the choice of suffering love over violent justice;
        •the commitment to sustained presence among the abandoned and the abused;
        •the willingness to learn how to love enemies, however close at hand or far away;
        •the redemptive embrace of the whole created order.


Let us enter this confessional with weary boldness. We confess our wanton ways, our prodigal journeys.

In your extravagant welcome, Christ have mercy.

We confess our timid and passionless pursuit of your Promise.

In your extravagant welcome, Christ have mercy.

Merciful Mother, Forgiving Father, make us brothers of compassion and sisters of grace.

In your extravagant welcome, Christ have mercy.

Pardon our wandering feet and our wanton hearts.

In your extravagant welcome, restore us to your Redemptive Home, to your Refreshing Presence, and to our reconciling mission. Forgive, that we may be forgivers.

©Ken Sehested @