Summary: This first person sermon hears the account of the prodigal son from the prodigal son himself. His story is our story - a story of God's amazing grace!
This morning I would like to speak to you as if I was that prodigal, wasteful and reckless son that we heard about in our gospel lesson. I come to you this morning to share my story, the same story that Jesus shared with a rather diverse group of people who had gathered around him from every walk of life: from the social outcasts of society called “sinners” to the “super” religious, self-righteous Pharisees. But really this is not just MY story, but in a senses, it is YOUR story also; an amazing story of God’s grace and love. So listen carefully and learn from my story, the lost son who was welcome back home by his father.
I grew up in what you would probably call a “well-to-do” family. Money was never much of an issue. My father was a successful business owner. My older brother and I not only had what we needed, but often much of what we wanted. That’s not to say that we were spoiled. No, my father expected us to work hard. We put in long hours and learned the family business working along-side-of my dad. Life was good.
My brother and I both knew that when Dad was gone, the family business would be handed down to us. I was excited to think about the opportunities that owning my own business would bring to me. I thought that when the time came I was going to conquer the world, watch out Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates and Warren Buffet. Although still a young man, I decided that the time had come. I went to my father and asked him for my share of the business. I was confident in my abilities, thought I knew what I was doing, could handle it no problem. Surprisingly enough, my dad agreed to give me my portion of the business.
It wasn’t long after that I decided to sell my share of the family business and set off to blaze my own trail of fortune and fame, to spread my wings a bit and do what I wanted to do. I left my family and friends and headed to a distant country. Once I arrived in my new home, Jesus was exactly right when he said of me, “There he squandered his wealth in wild living” (Luke 15:13). Actually “wild living” might be a bit of an understatement. My life was spinning out of control. If there was a party, I was there. If I wanted it, I bought it. If it felt good, I did it. I was spending money left and right without any thought of the future. I surrounded myself with “friends” which are easy to find when you have lots of money, but when the money ran out my “friends” were nowhere to be found. I was caught up in a life of self-destruction, a whirlwind of sin.
It took a little while, but eventually I lost everything. No friends. No money. No home. No food. I still remember that day when I went to work for a pig farmer. My job was to feed the pigs. I hadn’t eaten in days and I was so hungry that I remember looking enviously at the pigs and thinking how good they had it. If only I could have even just a little of their food. That’s when I knew that I had hit rock bottom. If something didn’t change, I was going to starve to death in poverty. I had to do something. Something had to change.
I thought back to the days when I lived at my father’s house with my brother. I recalled how well my father treated his workers and that’s when it hit me. I would go back home. I would go back to my father and ask if I could work for him. He didn’t have to accept me as his son, I mean, why in the world would he? I just wanted a job, something to be able to provide for the necessities of life.
As I set out for home, I had a lot of time to think. What was I going to say to my Dad? What was he going to say to me when he saw the mess I had made of my life, the way that I had squandered and wasted the money HE had worked so hard to earn for me. Would he even speak to me, look at me? I finally started to recognize some very familiar sights, places where I had grown up and played with my brother when we were children. I looked up and there in the distance was a man standing on a hill. At first I couldn’t make out exactly who it was. But the closer I got, I soon realized who it was. It was my father. All-of-a-sudden he started yelling something to someone and then he began running in my direction. I didn’t know exactly how to react. I wondered if he would slow down the closer he got. Take a look at me. Take a whiff of me and turn and walk the other direction. But instead he reached out his arms and grabbed hold of me and pulled me close to him. He hugged me and kissed me.