Summary: In what ways are we like the Older Brother in the Parable of the Two sons?
You’ve heard of Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, Gamblers Anonymous, Emotions Anonymous and Overeaters Anonymous. But have you ever heard of OLDER BROTHERS ANONYMOUS?
Let’s take a quick poll -- How many of you were the baby in your family? Would you stand, please? Thank you. Please be seated.
Now, how many of you are the oldest child in your family? How many first-born do we have? Would you please stand?
How many of you felt like the baby of the family got away with things you never could have gotten away with? Please remain standing. Please note that I am standing too!
You may not realize this, but Older Brothers Anonymous is a support group tailor-made just for you and me! I realize the name would be considered sexist by today’s standards, but the group was founded nearly 1950 years before Gloria Steinhem and the members decided to keep the original name for historical reasons.
As a matter of fact, most of you know something about the roots of this relatively unknown organization. It goes back to the famous story attributed to Jesus, the one about the father with two sons. You know the one I mean.
There was this son who got tired of working in his father’s pizzeria, so he went to his dad and asked him for his part of the inheritance now, so he could go out on his own. The father agreed, cashed in half his GIC’S and most of his RRSP’s, and the son was off. He immediately bought himself a Porsche 944, picked up Elizabeth Hurley as his co-pilot and headed for Las Vegas. There he bought drugs and booze and friends and when the money ran out, so did the drugs and booze and the friends. He ended up working as a busboy for Wayne Newton, so he could pay off his gambling debts, and he had to eat the leftover food on the plates he cleaned from the table to keep alive.
One day, while gnawing on a leftover sweet and sour PORK rib, he realized how foolish he had been and wrote home to dad for help. Without a moment’s hesitation and without reading the whole letter which was full of apologies and regrets, dad sent a first class plane ticket back home. The son arrived home and was greeted by dad with the biggest party ever thrown in Saskatoon. While the party was in full swing, along came the older son who had to pick up the slack while the “baby” was blowing a fortune in the U.S.A. He had to stay back until 3 a.m when the last delivery was made, the cash reconciled, the store locked, the security system turned on. He asked one of the guys who was standing outside with a joint in his hand: “Hey, what’s the commotion all about?” “Didn’t you hear the news? Your baby brother’s back, isn’t it exciting? Your Dad’s sure going all out to celebrate!”
Well, the older brother sure wasn’t excited about this pizza party. As a matter of fact, he was, er, cheesed off, to put it mildly. Then, of course, Papa had to come out and smooth the ruffled feathers...but he still couldn’t get himself to join in the festivities.
So, after a few sessions of therapy, his psychiatrist obtained a federal government grant and established the first ever chapter of OLDER BROTHERS ANONYMOUS. It was an instant hit.
We have obtained transcripts of one of the earliest sessions.
“Shalom! My name is David and I am an Older Brother, even though I am the middle child in our family of 19. As you know, I am also a Pharisee. As a Pharisee, I keep all the rules of the Jewish faith, all 613 of them. I tithe regularly. I make every sacrifice that is required. I fast periodically. I pray using all the proper words. I am a model citizen. I look around at the tax collectors, the prostitutes, the pimps and all these “sinners” of every stripe and, yuck! Makes an upright guy like me want to upchuck! I wouldn’t go near them, let alone have a meal with them. And then, along comes this Jesus character, who is supposedly a Rabbi, a model Jew, and he not only goes near them, he talks to them like they belong in his company, and, horror of horrors, he eats with them. I can’t take this any longer. I’ve killed enough bushes already. Will you help me, please?”
Yes, the Pharisees, scribes, Chief Priests, were all founding members of OLDER BROTHERS ANONYMOUS. Over the years, the group developed their own theme song. You may have heard it: “Annoying grace.” Here are the first two verses:
Annoying grace, how shrill the sound
That saved a wretch like thee;