Summary: We may relate to each of the characters in the story of the prodigal, but we are called to become the father.
Luke 15:11-32 May 14, 2004
The Waiting Father – Becoming the Father
How many people have read the book “The Return of The Prodigal Son” by Henri Nouwen? This is one of my “must read” books for Christians – I even recommend it for non-Christians. If you haven’t read them yet, this summer, you should read “The Return of the Prodigal Son” & “What’s So Amazing About Grace” by Philip Yancey. We’ll have a little book discussion on the beach at family camp.
Over the next few weeks, we’re going to looking at some things that impacted me from the book. I read the book years ago, but I think that these things are important for us to hear now.
Let’s start with the story
Story of the Lost Son
Jesus told them this story: "A man had two sons. The younger son told his father, `I want my share of your estate now, instead of waiting until you die.’ So his father agreed to divide his wealth between his sons.
"A few days later this younger son packed all his belongings and took a trip to a distant land, and there he wasted all his money on wild living. About the time his money ran out, a great famine swept over the land, and he began to starve. He persuaded a local farmer to hire him to feed his pigs. The boy became so hungry that even the pods he was feeding the pigs looked good to him. But no one gave him anything.
"When he finally came to his senses, he said to himself, `At home even the hired men have food enough to spare, and here I am, dying of hunger! I will go home to my father and say, "Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son. Please take me on as a hired man." ’
"So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long distance away, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him. His son said to him, `Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son. ’
"But his father said to the servants, `Quick! Bring the finest robe in the house and put it on him. Get a ring for his finger, and sandals for his feet. And kill the calf we have been fattening in the pen. We must celebrate with a feast, for this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found.’ So the party began.
"Meanwhile, the older son was in the fields working. When he returned home, he heard music and dancing in the house, and he asked one of the servants what was going on. `Your brother is back,’ he was told, `and your father has killed the calf we were fattening and has prepared a great feast. We are celebrating because of his safe return.’
"The older brother was angry and wouldn’t go in. His father came out and begged him, but he replied, `All these years I’ve worked hard for you and never once refused to do a single thing you told me to. And in all that time you never gave me even one young goat for a feast with my friends. Yet when this son of yours comes back after squandering your money on prostitutes, you celebrate by killing the finest calf we have.’
"His father said to him, `Look, dear son, you and I are very close, and everything I have is yours. We had to celebrate this happy day. For your brother was dead and has come back to life! He was lost, but now he is found!’ "
Who are you in the story?
There are many different ways to read scriptures: one, for information, lessons to learn, life rules to live by, a new understanding of God or the world around us, or ourselves, another, for formation: to allow God to shape us through the story, to allow God’s word to wash us, to go to our core and renew us. One method of reading for formation is to enter the story and say Who am I most like in this story? Who’s story most parallels mine? Who am I in this story?
Who are you in the story?
At which point in the story do you most relate to them?
The younger son
At home: Ungrateful, grasping at “what’s coming to him”
In a far off land: Wild living
Back home: Reconciled
The Older Son
Working hard out of duty
Being the “good boy”