This is a team message with all four of the lay speakers of the Charge participating. Ruth: the prodigal (the younger son); Ken: the father; Jeff, the elder son; and Jay, the servant. I am bringing the conclusion and that is what follows.
Maybe you resonate with one of the four characters of this story presented today.
You may feel like the prodigal. You have turned away from God and you wonder how on earth he would take you back. Maybe you knowingly turned away – after serving him, some how you have distanced yourself from him and done things that you know he is not pleased with. Maybe you’ve never known him. And now you are aware that you are living your life apart from God. Some may think, “How can God ever forgive me of ???” “I can’t even forgive myself.” Or “My family won’t even forgive me.”
Or you may be like the elder son. You have been faithful to the church all your life. You have served, you have attended, you have tithed, but you look at others and see God blessing them and you just don’t feel blessed. You don’t feel like God even knows you exist.
Or maybe you are like the servant, a kind of bystander. You stand on the fringes of the church, not knowing if you want to be involved. Not understanding entirely who this God is and definitely not understanding his actions. How can he love people who hate him, who deceive him, who use him? How can he so easily forgive and embrace people who purposefully despise him and even squander the gifts that he has given them?
Truthfully, the Father of this story is a mystery to us all: to the prodigals and prodigals-come-home, to the responsible ones who never left home, and to the ones on the sideline who are full of questions. But the Father understands each of us. And he loves each of us. And the only way to gain an inkling of understanding him, is to enter into the mystery. To cry out, Lord have mercy, forgive me, forgive me of running away and wanting to live life my way; forgive me for being so responsible and in charge that I think I can do it on my own without relying on you; forgive me as I have peered in from the outside, questioning who you are, and questioning your actions in this world.
Lord, have mercy
Our God is like a Parent who loves his children equally. He loves not because of what we do. But he loves us because we are his. And he loves us even before we are adopted into his family. He loves us into relationship with him and then he calls us his sons and his daughters. Does God call you his son or daughter today? Do you want to be called his son or daughter? God is calling you into his family today. And God is calling all of us into the center of his love, a love that forgives, a love that plays no favorites, a love that need not be earned, a love that is freely given. Will you enter into the arms of a loving Father, a loving Mother? Remember you don’t have to make everything right in your life before you come to him; that’s what he does. Come to him today. He will come running to meet to you and to welcome you, and to embrace you.