Meditation on The Prodigal Son

We’re all familiar with the Parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32).

 

Both sons had one thing in common:  Neither one of them trusted God.  Neither one of them trusted in His provision.

The son who was “lost” told his father, “I want everything NOW!” (Sound familiar?)  He did not trust God’s ability to provide everything in due season.

 


 

The second son — the “loyal” son, the son who stayed — wasn’t much better.  He was jealous of the gifts his father bestowed upon his “wastrel” brother after he returned home:

 

 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.  But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’  (Luke 15:29)

 

The “loyal” son did not trust in God’s capacity to provide in His time (Had he been more patient, his father may have given him a young goat as well.  One might ask, “Why didn’t he just ask for a young goat?”)

Like the “lost” son, he had little faith that either his father (or God) would provide.

 


 

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD.

There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven.(Ecclesiastes 3:1)

 


 

 

You wouldn’t buy Halloween costumes at Easter, would you?  Neither would the average person expect to buy Valentine’s Day candy on Labor Day.  All things come in due season.

God has his own timetable.  We would be wise to adhere to it.

What of “Everyone Else”?

Ours is a culture of exclusion and achievement.

We as a society lavish praise on “top performers” … “the best”.  Corporate America is on an never-ending quest for people who can take them to “the next level”.

Sadly, the world’s toxic values have penetrated the church.  We enshrine the church’s biggest donors with plaques on the wall.  We lionize the church’s most active volunteers with Lifetime Achievement Awards.

 


 

What of the “also-rans”?  What of the people whom the world leaves behind?  The “losers” and second-place finishers?

 

What of the people whom Christ called “the least of these”?

 


 

Mind you, gratitude is important.  The Apostle Paul writes:

 

“Now we ask you, brothers and sisters, to acknowledge those who work hard among you. Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work.  Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”  (1 Thessalonians 5:12-13, 18)

 

At the same time, we must take care not to allow the pursuit of status to become all-consuming.  Once more, Paul writes:

 

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:2)

 

In this season of Lent, we are called to humble ourselves before God.  We would do well to heed the words of John the Baptist:

 

The one who comes from above is above all; the one who is from the earth belongs to the earth, and speaks as one from the earth. The one who comes from heaven is above all.” (John 3:31)

 

We must be ever mindful of He Who Comes From Above.

(Spoiler Alert:  It’s not you … or me.)


 

Humility is a quality in short supply in our status-obsessed modern world.  We judge our neighbor by what brand of smartphone they carry, the type of car they drive, and the labels on their clothing.

Humility is a quality we should strive to exhibit all year long (as opposed to being something we haul out for Lent and put away on Easter Sunday).

We must not allow the pursuit of status to overshadow the church’s primary mission of serving the poor and unfortunate in our society.

 

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

“They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

“He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

“Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.” (Matthew 25:31-46)

 

 

 

A Season of Joy

It is all too easy to tie Christmas up in a series of man-made “rules” (“Don’t sing ‘Joy to the World’ during Advent! That’s a Christmas song! Why are you decorating your Christmas tree during Advent?”)

Christmas is a season of JOY. This not the time for the killjoys among us to be raining on the parades of their fellow believers.

Telling someone not to sing “Joy to the World”, “Silent Night”, or “O Little Town of Bethlehem” during Advent is something akin to telling an expectant mother not to have a baby shower until AFTER her child is born!


 

(If “Joy to the World” is a Christmas song, where do “Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer”, “Jingle Bells”, and “Deck the Halls” fall on the spectrum?)

 


Christmas is a time of celebration; it is a time to celebrate to coming birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ, into the world.  It is a time of joy.

Should we really be having these debates during this season of “Peace on Earth”?

Christmas Memories

xmastree

Christmas just isn’t what it used to be.

Sears is closing stores all across the country (my hometown included).  The store holds a lot of memories for me.

When I was a child, they still had the candy counters.  I remember the trays of red pistachios in the display cases (they were dyed red to hide the blemishes).

More than anything else, I miss the catalogs.  Nothing said Christmas more than the Christmas catalogs.  There was something about the creamy feel of the paper between your fingertips.

Clicking pages on a website just isn’t the same.

The Christmas catalogs were an absolute wonderland.  You could find anything and everything in there, from He-Man and G.I. Joe (I’m dating myself, I know) to Barbie’s Dream House.  They had everything from hats and shoes to bedding and dishes.

It was truly a magical time.

 

God Is In The Messy

As a dog returns to its vomit, so fools repeat their folly. (Proverbs 26:11)

 

Where can I go from your Spirit? 

Where can I flee from your presence?

If I go up to the heavens, you are there;

if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.

If I rise on the wings of the dawn,

if I settle on the far side of the sea,

even there your hand will guide me,

your right hand will hold me fast. (Psalm 139:7-10)

 

God wants YOU.

He wants ALL of you.

He doesn’t just want the nice, clean, sweet-smelling you that you present to the church on Sunday morning … No.

He wants your pain, your mess, your agony.  He wants to be Lord over ALL your life (The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly).


God is as much Lord over your messes (and mine) as He is Lord over the neat, clean, and tidy.

He is with the child who’s undergoing chemotherapy for cancer.  He’s with the soldier who’s had an arm blown off in combat.

God wants to be Lord of your WHOLE life.

 

 

Christ has no body but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks
Compassion on this world,
Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good,
Yours are the hands, with which he blesses all the world.
Yours are the hands, yours are the feet,
Yours are the eyes, you are his body.
Christ has no body now but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks
compassion on this world.
Christ has no body now on earth but yours. (St. Teresa of Avila, 1515–1582)