The Prodigal Son
Sunday, March 10, 2013
Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32
Good morning, everyone! Today's story is about a boy leaving home and what greets him when he returns. It's called The Prodigal Son.
Once there was a man who had two sons. One day, his youngest boy came to the father and said, "Dad, I am tired of being a farmer. Give me my share of my inheritance now so that I may go and make my own life in The Big City." Some parents would be very insulted by this request, because usually the family money and property is divided when the parents have both died, but this was an understanding father. He sent his youngest son off with the son's share.
The young man rented an apartment and started making friends in The Big City. He threw fancy parties and treated his new friends to elaborate meals in expensive restaurants. He spent his money without thinking, and in a short time, half the money his father had spent a lifetime earning and saving was gone. When the money was gone, so were the young man's new friends. He was poor and alone and without a job. He tried to find work, and got a job taking care of pigs.
One day, as he was feeding the pigs, his tummy rumbling with hunger, he thought to himself, "My father's farm hands have more than enough to eat, and here I am, starving to death! I will go back to my father and say to him, "Dad, I have sinned against God and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Please treat me like one of your hired hands."
So he walked all the way back home, practicing what he was going to say when he met his father as he went. Finally, he turned into the long lane that led to his parent's home. While he was still a far way off, his father saw him and was filled with love for his son. He ran to the boy, and before the son could say a word of the speech he had prepared, the father threw his arms around him and gave him a huge bear hug and a kiss. The boy started to say, "Dad, I have sinned against God and against you..." But he was cut off.
"Quickly, bring out a robe--the best one--and put it on him," the man said to his servants. "Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. And get the calf we've been fattening up and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; for this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and now is found!" And they began to have a big party.
Now you might think that is the end of the story, but there's more. Out in the fields, the older brother was working hard out in the field. It was the end of the day, and as he came toward the house to clean up and eat supper, he heard music and laughing. He asked a servant walking by, carrying a big platter of food, "What is going on?" The servant said, "Your brother is home, and your father is throwing a party because he has returned safe and sound."
Do you think this news would make the older brother happy or angry? Raise your hand if you think he'll be happy. Raise your hand if you think he'll be angry. Believe it or not, the older brother was so angry that he refused to go into the house. His father saw him sulking outside and came out to share the good news of his brother's safe return. "Come inside!" the father said. "Your little brother is home!"
"Listen! I have worked hard for you my whole life. I have never disobeyed you, and yet you have never even given me a young goat so that I can throw a party with my friends. And yet this son of yours comes home, after wasting all of the money you gave him, and for him you kill the prized calf!"
The father answered, 'Son, you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and rejoice, because it is like this brother of yours was dead and has come to life; he was lost and has been found."
Jesus told this story to show people how much God loves them. When we make mistakes, when we are lost and alone, God forgives us and always welcomes us home into the family of God.
Let's Pray. Dear God, we thank you for your love and forgiveness, always. Help us to rejoice with you when lost souls are welcomed home. In Jesus' name, Amen.