The last week of General Assembly has seen a vast array of worship, from choirs, musicians and Scripture to powerful sermons. The final online worship service on Saturday was no exception. The Rev. Jenny Saperstein, pastor of Northside Presbyterian Church in Ann Arbor, Michigan, referenced Luke 15:11–32 and Genesis 4:8–16 in her sermon, focusing on the parable of the prodigal son and the tragedy of Cain and Abel.
In each story, Saperstein said, the family dynamic is the same: brokenness between siblings when one is favored over the other.
“There are few stories as lamentable as the story of Cain and Abel, and nothing speaks more to pain and broken relationships within families and communities than the feelings of jealousy, envy, rivalry and disparity,” she said. “When God issues a warning to Cain to master his resentment, those feelings fester against the privileged brother Abel.”
Saperstein said the parable of the prodigal son leaves the reader hanging, wondering what comes next.
“There is something crucial about this parable, the larger cultural context of any story of two sons,” she said. “Our expectations are not limited to parables; rather, this parable will address the larger pattern of family relationships in Israel. These stories often show how favoritism was shown to the younger siblings. No matter how spoiled or selfish they may have been, God was working good things through them.”
Saperstein reminded commissioners and assembly delegates that the parable doesn’t conclude with a happy ending but invites readers and listeners to pick up where they left off.
“We all need to take time to appreciate those we have taken for granted and seek out and listen to their stories and invite them into community,” she said. “As a church family, Jesus invites all of us to take a moment to be accountable, to take stock of all we are responsible for, realize what has been missing and work toward restoration and new relationships with one another.”
Click here to view all of the worship services that were held during the 225th General Assembly.