Read Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32

from Jayne Chafin, Ravenswood First Christian Church

How many times have I preached this parable? Read it? Studied it? Taught it? Sang it? I think I know the story. Perhaps not word-for-word, but I know the story. So why, today, are my thoughts moving in another direction? Is it too much familiarity? That happens to me sometimes, that something is so familiar that I think I know the answer before the question is asked. But this day, this season of my life, is drawing me somewhere else.

The words of this parable exude forgiveness, even though the words are never spoken. It’s all in the actions of the father who runs to greet his son, embraces him, and puts on the grandest party ever seen.

But what happened after the party was over? Did the older brother come to grips with his anger? Did he ever forgive his brother and father for the perceived wrongs against him? Did the father stay true to his words and actions and not bring up his sons’ behavior again?

And most importantly, I think, did the younger son forgive himself the way his father had forgiven him? That’s the hardest part for most of us. Changing our behavior, admitting our mistakes, asking for forgiveness are all easy compared to truly forgiving ourselves as we have been forgiven, instead sitting around “waiting for the other shoe to drop” as my own father used to say. I hope that the son felt and lived that forgiveness. I pray that the forgiveness given to us and by us will be taken with joy and celebration. That the forgiveness of God will touch us and cleanse us and move us into truly living! May the party continue!

O God, in this holy season of Lent, may my confessions be true and the forgiveness of this life be ingrained in my soul, that I may live a life of joy and celebration in my returning to your loving embrace.