Friday, July 13, 2012
PARABLE OF THE LOST SON
11 To illustrate the point further, Jesus told them this story: "A man had two sons. 12 The younger son told his father, 'I want my share of your estate now before you die.' So his father agreed to divide his wealth between his sons.
13 "A few days later this younger son packed all his belongings and moved to a distant land, separating himself from his father, an equivalent of sin, or death and there he wasted all his money in wild living. 14 About the time his money ran out, a great famine swept over the land, and he began to starve. We all suffer the consequences of sin - alienation, broken relationships, physical and emotional harm 15 He persuaded a local farmer to hire him, and the man sent him into his fields to feed the pigs. When we suffer these consequences our first action is to try to fix it ourselves - we take it all on alone and make our own plans to repair the effects of sin 16 The young man became so hungry that even the pods he was feeding the pigs looked good to him. But no one gave him anything. no one else can save us, only Christ. We cannot save ourselves, and no one but He can save us - it is all about relationships.
17 "When he finally came to his senses, he said to himself, 'At home even the hired servants have food enough to spare, and here I am dying of hunger! At some point, perhaps we may hear the call, we may remember lessons learned, we may discover that we have Parents who love us 18 I will go home to my father and say, "Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, 19 and I am no longer worthy of being called your son. Please take me on as a hired servant."' And we still don't get it. we come up with a plan, we work out what to say, and we remain bogged down in our ideas that we need to earn grace, we need to earn salvation, that our works will make a difference in how our Father loves us, that rejection is going to come from God and Goddess because of what we have done, because that is how we think, we are not naturally forgiving.
20 "So he returned home to his father. As we undertake the journey, as we start out, this is what happens: And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him. The father is looking, a long way off, the son's return has been hoped for, desired, wanted. Goddess and God want us to come home to Them. They meet us not half way, not at all, but the instant They see us moving in Their direction, they start running towards us, not walking, but running, as fast as they can. When They arrive there are no words of condemnation, no accusation of unworthiness or impurity, but They fall on us and embrace us as sons and daughters, without even a shadow of hesitation. 21 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.*' And we STILL don't get it. we rehearse our speech, because we haven't yet realized the significance of Their welcome. we still think that we need to work off our debt, that our plan is what will save us, that WE have anything to do with our salvation beyond simply wanting to be saved, and willing to come home. And then we are interrupted, we can't even finish what we want to say before this happens:
22 "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. 23 And kill the calf we have been fattening. We must celebrate with a feast, 24 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. The finest robe would belong to the father - his own personal robe. The ring as a sign of belonging, a declaration that the son was still a son, still an heir, still a part of the family. And a celebration, not a welcome home, not a back to work, no, a celebration involving the entire household. A party to rejoice that a suffering son had chosen to return to his father's house.
25 "Meanwhile, the older son was in the fields working. When he returned home, he heard music and dancing in the house, 26 and he asked one of the servants what was going on. Another we, working away, looking around and realizing that there was some kind of joy that he was missing out on, not understanding what the reason for the rejoicing. 27 'Your brother is back,' he was told, 'and your father has killed the fattened calf. We are celebrating because of his safe return.'
28 "The older brother was angry and wouldn't go in. We become angry when we see others rewarded without deserving it. We are still attached to the idea that our works bring us some kind of merit, that they are in any way a part of our salvation. We resent the return of our brothers and sisters to the fold. His father came out and begged him, And our Parents' response? To beg us to come and join the celebration, to beg us to come and be one with our brother, who has come back. They desire that we should see as They do, and love and forgive freely. 29 but he replied, 'All these years I've slaved 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. 30 Yet when this son of yours comes back after squandering your money on prostitutes, you celebrate by killing the fattened calf!' Our ideas of work get in the way. We think that we deserve things, that we have earned things, that there ought to be a difference between me, who made good choices, and you, who did not, that there should be a punishment inflicted because of past actions. We fail to see that the punishment happens during the actions themselves, the consequences of our sins apply to us as we sin. Why on earth should they continue when we have turned our face back to Christ? Why should we demand additional, punishment? This is because of our orientation to the Law, to the ideas of punishment and revenge, that we deserve something for being wronged, or that we deserve something for our work. We demand that that we be unequal in the eyes of God and that They love us more than others.
31 "His father said to him, 'Look, dear son, you have always stayed by me, and everything I have is yours. Which begs the interesting question - what will the older brother do when the father dies and he inherits the estate? Will he have learned the lesson and be united with his younger brother? Will he remain angry and resentful? We have to decide what we will do when someone comes home - will we stand at the gates and demand that they suffer for wronging us? When we have all done so much wrong to each other? Following on these ideas are the parable of the 12 workers and the parable of the indebted servant. 32 We had to celebrate this happy day. And indeed it is a happy day! For your brother was dead and has come back to life! Has turned away from death / separation, and has wanted unity, has wanted to come back home, was willing to return. He was lost, but now he is found!'"
NLT translation of Luke 15
We are both the younger son and the older son. We are all in a far away land, spending our inheritance on things that cannot please or save us. We all have Heavenly Parents who will come running when we turn to Them. We, none of us at all, are deserving of Their love, or of the Salvation They offer us through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. We all come back thinking that we will work off our sins, that we will need to convince Them to accept us, that we have to prove worthy. The reality is, grace intervenes. We desire to come back and grace cuts us off in mid sentence, we are embraced, we are clothed, we are heirs, as we have been all along, if we hadn't been too wrapped up in our actions and our sense of unworth to have seen it. Grace opens the doors of heaven, and we only have to stop turning away, stop rejecting it, and it will fill us with light, clothe us with righteousness, and make us whole before God and Goddess. And, as we are all the younger son, let us not be as the older son, still worrying about works and tallies and balances while dwelling in the kingdom. Let us rejoice over every single soul who wishes to come back. Let us join with our Parents and our Savior in throwing our arms around them, welcoming them, and celebrating their return, for every single soul is precious. Each of us prodigals is of infinite worth.