Summary: Lectionary : Lent 4

25/3/01 6 p.m. Luke 15:1-3,11-32.

151Now the tax collectors and "sinners" were all gathering around to hear him. 2But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, "This man welcomes sinners and eats with them." 3Then Jesus told them this parable:... 11 "There was a man who had two sons. 12The younger one said to his father, `Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them. 13"Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. 14After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. 15So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. 16He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything. 17"When he came to his senses, he said, `How many of my father’s hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.’ 20So he got up and went to his father. "But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. 21"The son said to him, `Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ 22"But the father said to his servants, `Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. 24For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate. 25"Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. 26So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. 27`Your brother has come,’ he replied, `and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’ 28"The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. 29But 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. 30But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’ 31" `My son,’ the father said, `you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. 32But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ "

PRAY Father God, out of your great love for me, everlasting love, love upon love, take me back as your child. Amen.

A few weeks ago one of my sister’s friends had been shopping in Norwich and returned to find that his motorcycle had been stolen. He immediately went to the Police Station to report this. They took all the usual details, make, model, the registration number, and his details.

He returned home on the bus rather fed up and was delighted to receive a phone call from the police within a couple of hours to say they had found the motorbike, undamaged in a local car park. Then the man remembered. He had gone to park his motorbike in it’s usual place, found it was full and parked it in that nearby car park. But he had forgotten all about this and returned to the usual parking place. It hadn’t been stolen, but lost. He was very embarrassed.

I guess we have all lost something important at one time or other. Luke 15 is about the lost : the lost sheep; the lost coin; and the lost son.

The last of these parables is widely known as the parable of the Prodigal Son. Does anyone know what prodigal means ? Wasteful. This title ignores the fact that there were two sons, and that these parable were told against the Pharisees who moaned about Jesus mixing with ’sinners’, verse 2. Perhaps this parable should be known as the Parable of the Forgiving Father. It is around him that this story revolves.

The Pharisees and teachers of the law thought that salvation was earned by being religious. So the religious outcasts should be excluded and condemned.

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