Summary: We are called to have the character of he father of the Prodigal in our neigbourhood.
Luke 15:11-32 January 20, 2008
Lighthouses of Prayer
The Call to Become the Father
Review of Lighthouses of Prayer
Last week I introduced the idea of lighthouses of prayer. It comes from Luke chapter 10 where Jesus sends out the 72 Disciples to go into the villages around the country.
This is his commission: "When you enter a house, first say, ’Peace to this house.’ If the head of the house loves peace, your peace will rest on that house; if not, it will return to you. Stay there, eating and drinking whatever they give you, … Heal the sick who are there and tell them, ’The kingdom of God has come near to you.’
From this passage we receive a way to impact our neighbours for Jesus:
The Luke 10:1-9 The Model
5-6 - Bless Your Neighbours
“When you enter a house, first say, ’Peace to this house.”
Now we have taken this model and organized it so that it is something that you can do as part of your daily routine: we’ve suggested that you take the five houses on either side of you, and the 11 across the street and begin to pray blessing on each of them.
You can do this by walking up and down your street and blessing each house Or you can make blessing your neighbours part of your daily devotions, you could bless a neighbour as you bless your food…
7-8 Develop relationships with your neighbours.
“Stay there, eating and drinking whatever they give you”
9a - Pray for their needs
“Heal the sick who are there”
9b - Share the Gospel
“…and tell them, ’The kingdom of God has come near to you.”
From last week’s sermon “Start off this new year with a focus on the people around us”
An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.
Martin Luther King, Jr.
Last week I talked about the first point and connected it to being priests and shepherds
Today I want to stay on the first point and talk about it using the story of the Prodigal Son.
Read Prodigal Story from the Voice
In the story, you might find that you relate most with the prodigal son, who rejects the father, runs off to spend himself and his wealth in wild living, hits rock bottom, comes to himself and returns to the father repentant.
You might relate well with the older son who has always been the good boy and felt unappreciated, never really knowing the father’s love for you and angry when those who do not deserve it receive it.
You might relate well to the father in the story, especially if you are a parent. Possibly you have a child, or someone you love who has run off to a far off country to live wildly, and you are waiting for their return
Henri Nouwen wrote a book based on the story and on his reflections on Rembrandt’s painting of the Return of the Prodigal. One of the things that Nouwen’s book did for me when I read it a few years ago was to open my eyes not just to relating to the prodigal son, or the older brother, or even just relating to the father, but it was his second last chapter called “Becoming The Father” that opened my eyes and heart to the call on our lives to be the father. It isn’t enough to find our story, our past, and possibly our present in the characters of the sons or even the father, we need to find our future in the character of the father.
This is what Nouwen writes:
“Though I am both the younger son and the elder son, I am not to remain them, but to become the Father. No father or mother ever became father or mother without having been son or daughter, but every son and daughter has to consciously choose to step beyond their childhood and become father and mother for others. It is a hard and lonely step to take - especially in a period of history in which parenthood is so hard to live well - but it is a step that is essential for the fulfillment of the spiritual journey.”
No matter where you see yourself in the story, the goal is to move to reconciliation with the father, yes, but it is to move through reconciliation to the call to become the father.
There is something easy about continuing to see ourselves as the prodigal returned, or even the older son. That way when we are tempted to run off to wild living or when we are tempted to become judgmental of other’s sins, we can half excuse ourselves by saying “well it’s not surprising that I’m temped or fall this way, I really am the prodigal, or I really am the older brother.” When we live only out of a reflection on these two characters in the story, our only job is to receive the father’s love, forgiveness and embrace.