Summary: It is a prominent feature in our lives and our memories. A place of safety. A place of provision. It's "The Porch!"
Pt. 3 - Porch Parties
In a Norman Rockwell like way Jesus crafts the account that for centuries has been lauded for its depth and for its truth.
Close your eyes and see if you can recreate the scene in your mind. Peering down the hillside you see the homestead. Surrounded by a strong split rail fence. The yard is expansive. The long winding drive cuts down the left side of the property. Cast off toys long forgotten litter the yard and remind you that time has passed quickly. The house is two stories. Large but not overwhelming. Black shutters flank each window. Landscaping manicured and yard trimmed. In the background, barns are well kept. Swarming activity can be seen as the investment of hard days in the fields must now be managed. Affluent but not flashy. Wealthy but not wasteful. There are prominent features . . . the windmill, the corrals, the worn tire swing under the aged tree that stands towering alone in the front yard. However, the one feature that stands out above all else is the large, inviting, wraparound porch lined with rocking chairs. A small round table holds the once used checkers set. A sleeping dog stationed near the screen door. Muddy boots from the field are left on the first step. A gathering place at the end of long day. Ice tea and lemonade have been shared here. No better place for late night cups of hot chocolate in the cool of fall evenings. Dates end in the swing on the far end of the porch where long moments of silence are filled with spectacular views of the star filled sky. The porch has served as base during intense games of tag. It has served as safe haven from sudden spring showers. Stories, jokes, and serious discussions have found an audience here. Laughs, tears and life have been experienced on this porch. The youngest son exits the scene. He grabs the old duffle bag, empties out his dresser drawers, stomps down the stairs determined to make it on his own. He leaves his mother shattered in tears. He finds his father in the study, demands an early inheritance (basically saying he wished his dad was dead), opens the screen door as his father sits stunned, confused, scared and scarred, and without hesitation or a second thought steps off the porch and heads into a new story.
Jesus uses this scene to craft His masterpiece. With the scene painted in your mind listen again!
Then he said, “There was once a man who had two sons. The younger said to his father, ‘Father, I want right now what’s coming to me.’ So the father divided the property between them. It wasn’t long before the younger son packed his bags and left for a distant country. There, undisciplined and dissipated, he wasted everything he had. After he had gone through all his money, there was a bad famine all through that country and he began to hurt. He signed on with a citizen there who assigned him to his fields to slop the pigs. He was so hungry he would have eaten the corncobs in the pig slop, but no one would give him any. That brought him to his senses. He said, ‘All those farmhands working for my father sit down to three meals a day, and here I am starving to death. I’m going back to my father. I’ll say to him, Father, I’ve sinned against God, I’ve sinned before you; I don’t deserve to be called your son. Take me on as a hired hand.’ He got right up and went home to his father. When he was still a long way off, his father saw him. His heart pounding, he ran out, embraced him, and kissed him. The son started his speech: ‘Father, I’ve sinned against God, I’ve sinned before you; I don’t deserve to be called your son ever again.’ But the father wasn’t listening. He was calling to the servants, ‘Quick. Bring a clean set of clothes and dress him. Put the family ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Then get a grain-fed heifer and roast it. We’re going to feast! We’re going to have a wonderful time! My son is here—given up for dead and now alive! Given up for lost and now found!’ And they began to have a wonderful time.
Born for relationship the son steps off the porch and exits the father's protection. Once he had daily interaction with the father. Now he is in a distant country in a dreadful condition. Pigs rather than porch. Swine rather than swings. The pain of famine . . . the pain of lack of destiny . . . the pain of lack of meaning forces the young man to take a step back towards his father. He gets up and puts actions to his intentions and begins the journey back to the porch. Some of you can relate. You have rehearsed what a relationship with God would be like but rehearsal doesn't equal a return. It is time to take steps.