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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Today’s Scripture Reading | Luke 15:11–24

Then Jesus said, “There was a man who had two sons. The younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of the property that will belong to me.’ So he divided his property between them. A few days later the younger son gathered all he had and traveled to a distant country, and there he squandered his property in dissolute living. When he had spent everything, a severe famine took place throughout that country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed the pigs. He would gladly have filled himself with the pods that the pigs were eating; and no one gave him anything. But when he came to himself he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired hands have bread enough and to spare, but here I am dying of hunger! I will get up and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son; treat me like one of your hired hands.”’ So he set off and went to his father. But while he was still far off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion; he ran and put his arms around him and kissed him. Then the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his slaves, ‘Quickly, bring out a robe—the best one—and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. And get the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; for this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found!’ And they began to celebrate." (NRSV)

The all-too-familiar account of the Prodigal Son is a compelling story of grace and love. It is a parable of a compassionate father who works together with his two sons in the family business. One of the sons demands his share of the family fortune while the other son continues to work alongside the father. The first son, who demanded his share of the family riches, leaves home, breaking his father’s heart. In time, the young man finds himself penniless, then decides to return to his father’s house expecting to work as one of the servants.

At this point in the story something amazing happens. The father sees his son from a long distance and runs to him. Once he reaches his wayward son, the father embraces him, kisses him, and calls for a celebration of his return. Not exactly the kind of reception I would expect after spending the family inheritance while living a reckless life. The prodigal son experienced a tremendous lesson of grace and love.

Through the parable I am reminded of how great the Father’s love is for us and that life circumstances don’t dictate the love of God. The parable inspires me to see a loving father running toward a child with open arms of grace and love.

There are two significant points to remember in the story. First, I equate the expression of love displayed by the father in this parable to the love of our Heavenly Father. The second key lesson of the story is the significance of the running father. I can visualize a father in compassion, running with open arms, as the ultimate expression of grace and love.

Loving and gracious God, during the varying circumstances in life help us to visualize you as a loving God, running to us with arms wide open, ready to embrace and redeem. Help us to rest in your grace and trust your great love. Amen.

Written by Robert Crouch, Director of Volunteer Ministry

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