Contemporary Scripture Reflections for Spiritual Seekers
Dr. Elizabeth-Anne Stewart, BCC, PCC
March 27th, 2022

that sanity will prevail and that all those suffering through the terrible conflict in Ukraine will find the comfort and resources they need.   


Prodigal Father
from Frost & Fire,
EAS c.1985

Foolish old man
like Lear
to divide the estate
between sons
jealous of the time
you live,
weary of their wait
for you to die.

Foolish old man!
The ledger
is the measure
of their love.
Now that he has his share,
the youngest
saunters off
to consort
with whores and swine,
a lecher
defiled by rancid wine
in an ungodly land.

And the elder
is no better
though the letter
of the law
is what he follows.
Cunningly, he calculates,
on the inheritance
yet to come.

Foolish old man,
watcher on the hill,
straining for sight
of the unfortunate
whose plight
rumor knows too well.

Your eyes fill with tears,
you caper on the spot.
And now the geriatric trot,
the undignified run,
the excessive embrace
of the hireling
upon whose finger
you place your ring.

Foolish old man!
For the spendthrift
you kill the fatted calf,
risking rift
with the penny-pincher
who refuses to feast
now that your sorrow's ceased.

Very foolish fond old man,
child-changed father
caught between
heartbreak and hope,
while you can...


  • What does having a mind-shift mean to you?

  • With which character in this parable do you most closely identify?

  • What values does the older brother live by?

  • What values are important to the father in the parable?

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Thanks for considering this

Greetings, SBT Readers!

Since the dropping of Little Boy and Fat Man in 1945, the world has known this terrible truth: We have the power to annihilate the human race.

There are those who have death wishes and simply take their own lives -- this has been an epidemic recently, especially since Covid19. And then there are those who decide to take others with them -- pilots who go off course, taking down the whole plane; or mass shooters who kill for the sake of killing or for the sake of an ideology; or suicide/murder cases, often involving family members...

In a world where leaders compete for being the most powerful, the most "virile," the most authoritarian, we are at the mercy of maniacs who can launch a nuclear war at the push of a button. Like pilots going off course, they would rather destroy than negotiate, rather annihilate than save lives. There is no compassion, no sympathy -- just raw ruthlessness fueled by hatred of all that is good and beautiful. Nothing moves them -- neither the images of levelled towns and burned out apartment buildings, nor photos of civilians mowed down in bread lines or blitzed in maternity wards, nor images of children buried under the rubble of schools... They have hearts of steel, encased in concreted, encircled by razor sharp barbed wire. They simply don't care, don't register, are incapable of emotion. "Where is their humanity?" we might ask. Truth is they have none. That's what makes them so dangerous.

It is preposterous to think that a single individual has the power to destroy humanity. In a world devoid of God, there is no hope. All we can do is live the best lives we can, always under the nuclear cloud, always wondering if there will be a future. But for believers? Scripture reveals that God has habit of toppling the mighty from their thrones, of puncturing the egos of the hard hearted --and of using the least likely individuals to accomplish this end! Wherever there is injustice, there are always leaders of opposition, prophets and martyrs who sacrifice everything to speak truth and dismantle unjust systems. And there have always been those who pray a new world into being...

And, so, let us pray...

Lenten Blessings!


Brothers and sisters:
Whoever is in Christ is a new creation:
the old things have passed away;
behold, new things have come.
And all this is from God,
who has reconciled us to himself through Christ
and given us the ministry of reconciliation,
namely, God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ,
not counting their trespasses against them
and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.

"Behold, new things have come." Sometimes, we cling to manna when we have the produce of a new land at our disposal. Sometimes, we cling to old attitudes because they reinforce our biases, assumptions and behaviors. Sometimes, we resist change because we are afraid of embracing the unknown. Both at a sensory and intellectual level, we know that fresh produce/ freshly baked unleavened cakes are preferable to manna but we are accustomed to the bland, textureless bread of the desert. The land yields rich produce, offers us a banquet of healthy possibilities yet we reach out for the freebies instead. Such behavior is a little like that of a person living in a food desert who, having existed on a diet of potato chips, coca cola and processed foods, suddenly has access to a grocery store; even if the food prices are affordable, that individual will often prefer to stick with the old, unhealthy diet because it is familiar. A mind-shift needs to happen!
Classical theology describes God as "The Prime Mover unmoved." Though nothing can move God, God is not static. While the essence of God is unchanging, God is fluid; God is flowing love. Ever-creating, God is continually offering us something new. The Israelites receive a new land; instead of depending on manna, they now have the means to tend their own crops and produce their own food. With ownership comes responsibility for the land. The shift is from dependency to stewardship, from complaining to a recognition of the blessings they have received.
Just as the Israelites are called to be a new nation, so Paul reminds us that we are called as individuals to become a new creation -- a new, evolved kind of human that leaves behind the fear-filled, egotistical, competitive self to put on Christ.
This invitation shines through The Parable of the Prodigal Son which could equally well be called The Parable of the Two Brothers. Having squandered his inheritance and disgraced the family, the younger son becomes a new creation through repentance. His mind-shift progresses something like this:

1. My inheritance is mine to do what I like with -- hurray for wine, women and song!
2. I won't work on the land or help out the family -- I would rather party in a foreign land.
3. I don't care about the family name! I'll hunker down with pigs if I have to!
4. THEN: Well, I've really screwed up. I'll go home and be a laborer. I'll ask dad for forgiveness.

The older upright brother is a tougher case. He has always kept the rules and therefore expects to be rewarded; however, his younger brother's return undermines everything. He doesn't have a mind-shift that the reader is aware of; instead, his self-serving values could be expressed this way:
1. I will perform my duties and win my father's approval.
2. Unlike my younger brother, I will bring honor to my family, not shame.
3. I won't make any demands upon my father; I will work hard now without partying and then I will receive a sizable inheritance when my dad dies.
4. My younger brother is as good as dead. He's brought shame on our family -- how unforgivable! He's squandered his share of the inheritance and whatever else dad owns is now meant for me because I deserve it-- I earned it.

The older brother is unable to accept the reality that
1. His dad loves the younger son who hasn't earned his love.
2. After all his own years of labor, his father doesn't love him for the work he has done! Rather, love is based on something deeper with which the older son is unfamiliar.
3. The younger brother is now going to have access to the older brother's inheritance -- perhaps half of it!
Does the older brother eventually have a mind-shift? His father invites him to think differently about life, but we don't know the outcome. He is jealous and sulks, refusing to celebrate. Will he become a new creation? This is unlikely.
Losses, disgrace and disaster bring the younger brother to his senses -- what will it take for the older brother to change?
More importantly, what type of mind-shift do we need? What do we need to let go of and what do we need to embrace?

This video explains my approach to this ministry, while my website provides further details as well. During COVID-19, sessions are by phone or on Zoom; I am also available to facilitate "virtual" retreats for groups and individuals.
Dr. Elizabeth-Anne Stewart | |

C. All Photos by Elizabeth-Anne Stewart,