A long time ago I returned to church, to Jesus, to God. I was embraced by the truly perfect Father and hugged, much like the prodigal son who returns to his father’s house.
There were people around, not all happy about this. A sinner coming into our midst, who didn’t know when to sit or stand. A sinner who sits in our seat, who didn’t know smoking was out. A sinner who in the full assembly of the church changed bit by bit but not fast enough for some.
There were happy people, those who long for their own daughters and sons to come home, grannies and granddads, mums and dads, sisters and brothers.
On Wednesday I heard about a perfect young man who lived a good Christian life, immersed in the life of the church but who had no compassion and little understanding of grace. When he listened of lost sheep, coins, and sons he would bristle – “what about me, Lord?” I journey now with this “perfect” young man and am full of grace for him. But wonder are the churches still full of people like that. The judge-ers, the finger pointers, the ones not like me.
I am catching up, I know when to sit and stand, not to smoke or other vices, sing when we sing and never, nay, never dance. There is true joy and peace in my life and for all the older brothers in the world I pray this for you too.
The parable of the lost sonLuke 15:11-32
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 round 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 elder 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 elder 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. 32 But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.”’