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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Today’s Scripture Reading | Luke 15:20–32        

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. “Now his elder son was in the field; and when he came and approached the house, he heard music and dancing. He called one of the slaves and asked what was going on. He replied, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fatted calf, because he has got him back safe and sound.’ Then he became angry and refused to go in. His father came out and began to plead with him. But he answered his father, ‘Listen! For all these years I have been working like a slave for you, and I have never disobeyed your command; yet you have never given me even a young goat so that I might celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours came back, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fatted calf for him!’ Then the father said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. But we had to celebrate and rejoice, because this brother of yours was dead and has come to life; he was lost and has been found.’” (NRSV)

Today we step into the middle of one of Jesus’ most popular parables, the prodigal son. And we do so on Father’s Day. How are we to respond to this pairing?

I am deeply grateful for my father and for all the men who are fathers to the world’s children. I am graced by the gift and the challenge of being a father and a grandfather. I bring these rich experiences to this profound passage.

Yet I also bring the perspective of being an older brother. Yes, I have struggled with my own moments of resentment. I can readily identify with the seemingly taken-for-granted member of the household.

The crucial moment for the elder son is the party his father throws for the wayward one. The feasting, the music, the dancing are most offensive! Forgiveness and grace offend any sense of fairness.

These feelings easily overwhelm the deeper dynamics of the story. I second preacher and scholar Fred Craddock when he affirms that this is fundamentally a story of a loving father. “The father not only has two sons, but loved two sons, went out to two sons, and was generous to two sons.”

In a world of winners and losers, of either you or me, the good news of the gospel is that God’s love is radically inclusive. Thanks be to God for this rich gift of grace!

God, who is like a loving father to all your children, I am grateful for your abundant forgiveness, which transforms our experience. May your love stretch our understandings and our actions, leading us from grumpiness to grace as followers of Jesus, our brother and our Savior. Amen.

Written by Jeff Doane, Parish Associate for Older Adults

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