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The Yellow Ribbon


Sermon shared by Owen Bourgaize

August 2003
Summary: A modern story of the Prodigal Son from the song: íTie a Yellow Ribbon Around the Old Oak Treeí
Denomination: Baptist
Audience: General kids
Jesus told a story of a man who had two sons. The younger son was discontented with life at home and he said to his father, íFather, I want right now whatís coming to me.í So the father divided the property between his sons and the younger packed his bags and left for a distant country. He was a foolish boy and soon heíd wasted everything he had. There was a bad famine in that land so with no money he was desperate. He tried to get a job but the only work he could find was to feed pigs. He was so hungry that he had to share the pigsí food!

That brought him to his senses. He said to himself, íAll my fatherís workers sit down to three meals a day, and here I am starving to death. Iím going back to my father. Iíll say to him, "Father, Iíve sinned against God, Iíve sinned before you; I donít deserve to be called your son. Take me on as a hired hand."í He got right up and went home to his father.

His father was watching out for his sonís return and ran to meet him. The son started his speech but the father wasnít listening. He was calling to his servants, íQuick. Bring a clean set of clothes and dress him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet and get a feast ready. Weíre going to celebrate. My son was lost and is now found!í (Luke 15:18-24).

That story has happened in real life many times. I read of a man who had committed a crime for which he was deeply ashamed. When heíd served his prison sentence and was about to be released he wondered if his family would reject him because of the scandal heíd caused and the shame brought on the family. He wrote his parents saying that he would be coming back by bus but didnít want to embarrass them with his presence if they didnít want him back. He asked them to tie a yellow ribbon on the old oak tree at the beginning of their street if it was all right for him to return home. If there was no ribbon on the tree when the bus passed he wouldnít get off the bus.

He was in quite a state on the bus journey and as it got nearer his street he couldnít bear to look at the tree. He was so emotional that he asked the driver to look at for him. He neednít have worried. The tree was covered with yellow ribbons! The whole community joined his parents in welcoming him back.

Thereís a famous American song written about this story: íTie a Yellow Ribbon Around the Old Oak Treeí. Hereís just a few lines:

íIím coming home Iíve done my time
And I have to know what is or isnít mine.
If you received my letter telling you Iíd soon be free
Then youíd know what to do if you still want me.

O tie a yellow ribbon íround the old oak tree
Itís been three long years - do you still want me?

A simple yellow ribbonís all I need to set me free

If I donít see a yellow ribbon ... Iíll stay on the bus, forget about us

Now the whole bus is cheering and I canít believe I see
A hundred yellow ribbons íround the old, the old oak tree.í

(Russell Brown/Irwin Levine)

The man was forgiven and welcomed back into his family. And thatís what God does to anyone who comes to Him and asks to be forgiven. He doesnít show us a yellow ribbon but the Cross of Jesus as His sign of forgiveness and acceptance.
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