By Sheila Baltzell-Linn

(6-25-21) Pastor Steve Howell leads worship service at St. Paul’s United Church of Christ.

The Congregation of St. Paul’s United Church of Christ – Rockford welcomed Pastor Steve Howell to the pulpit on
Sunday, June 20, 2021, Father’s Day. He started out recognizing all fathers present and mentioning that dads often work behind the scenes and get less recognition than moms on their special day.

His inspiring message, titled, “This is my Father’s World,” included Biblical verses from the Old and New Testament about the relationship between us (children) and our perfect heavenly, loving Father – God.

Pastor Steve went on to read the Gospel Lesson from Luke 15: 11-31-

11 Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. 12 The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.

13 “Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. 14 After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. 16 He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.

17 “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18 I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ 20 So he got up and went to his father.

“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.

21 “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’

22 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. 24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.

25 “Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. 27 ‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’

28 “The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. 29 But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’

31 “‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours.

…the parable of the prodigal son. Jesus teaches us the relationship with God Almighty through it. The parable goes that two sons asked their father for their inheritance. The first son stayed home with his father and worked the farm. The second son took his inheritance and left the farm for foreign lands where he squandered everything. He sinned. He became hungry and had to work hard in the fields for little pay and little food. He decided to go home where he knew he could do the same labor with fair pay and food to eat. His father was a just man. When his father saw him coming down the road, he welcomed him, put a ring on his finger, killed the fatted calf and had a party. His brother who had stayed on the farm was very angry and jealously and would not go meet his brother. When questioned by his father, he lashed out saying that his father never did these things for him. He saw his relationship as owner and slave with his father. He sinned. But his father explained that his brother, whom they thought was dead, lived! Cause to celebrate! Jesus teaches us the relationship we have with God. Not owner-slave, not master-servant, not boss man and employee but God Almighty Heavenly Father-sons and daughters.

Pastor Steve Howell is a retired minister from Grace Missionary Church.

Pastor Steve will be back in the pulpit on Sunday, June 27, 2021 delivering the message entitled “When a Little Becomes
A Lot” which is based on the Gospel Lesson John 6:1-15 – for those of you who like to follow the scriptures.

Please call Becky Shope 419-363-2227 for any questions regarding the worship services.

Visit the St. Paul’s UCC – Rockford Facebook Page for information as well.