The last character we need to remember in this story is the elder brother. He is the one who never left home. Some might say Jesus is being unfair to him. He stayed home, took care of business, earned his keep, and his place at the table.
We know that the father in this parable is God. What a joy to see how God welcomes us prodigals! God doesn’t even wait until we get to the door. God doesn’t stand with arms crossed ready to say, “I told you so.” We aren’t required to earn our grace. There is no demand that we pay back what is lost.
Let’s celebrate! As the old phrase says, “Let’s put the big pot in the little one.” We are home. That is how I felt when I came home from graduating from Texas A&M. My life had been that of the prodigal.
I want to invite you to look at the characters of this story, the Prodigal Son. A prodigal is one who wastes what he has. We know that the younger son wasted his wealth on things that didn’t matter. He wasted it on things and people who could not satisfy his yearning.
Jesus, as he often did, answers the Pharisees and scribes’ grumbling (grumbling isn’t new to the family of God) with a non- confrontational story. Look at the stories from end to beginning. Yes, read the end first, “…joy in heaven…”,
Where is our home? Is home the house we live in, the place where we grew up, the place where our family of origin lives, our tribe, a state, or a region? Where is home? It is clear in Genesis, home is God. There is a gospel song that makes it clear, “This world is not my home, I’m just a passin’ through.”
You cannot do the Christian life alone. We were created for community. We were created for relationship. It may seem easier at times to keep to ourselves and trudge through life taking care of our needs and the needs of our family. And in some ways that might be easier, but it is definitely not the life we are called to.
In the midst of 18th century England where poverty, prostitution and slavery were widespread, John Wesley and others began a revival. Historians marvel at how the revival was sustained for decades. While there were lots of contributing factors, many credit the Wesleyan class meeting with making the deepest impact upon the movement.
Today, we re-read these verses at the end of Acts 2. They serve as a sort of road map for us as Christians today. The culture and setting were different then, and we should not seek to “copy” the first Christians, but we can learn from their experience. The key seems to be in their devotion and their togetherness.
The Holy Spirit was working in a big way amongst this first-century crowd. The apostle Peter was helping the people understand how God had worked through Jesus and the Holy Spirit. John Wesley, founder of the Methodist movement, spoke of a similar experience, “I felt my heart strangely warmed.
Nehemiah was born in exile, along with many other Jewish people. He had an important role in his community as cup-bearer to the King. He could have easily ridden out the remainder of his days in this role, enjoying the luxuries that came with it. Instead, Nehemiah received a calling from God.
This Psalm is attributed to Moses. It seems to be a prayer by Moses, on behalf of the people. Poor Moses had to defend the people to God quite often! Remember the complaining in the desert (Exodus 16) and the golden calf (Exodus 32)? This prayer, besides defending the people to God, also seems to be about helping them return to what is important, once again.
In the book, “Intentional Living: Choosing a Life That Matters” John Maxwell writes, “If I wanted to make a difference… Wishing for things to change wouldn’t make them change. Hoping for improvements wouldn’t bring them. Dreaming wouldn’t provide all the answers I needed.
Today we return to Monday’s scripture, the shortened version. I want to remind us that, “Where our treasure is, there our hearts will be also.” We have been assessing our values all week, trying to become intentional about how we use our gifts and focus our efforts.
This week we are focusing on an important idea, “Your priorities are what you do, not what you say you do.” We live our lives with priorities every day, whether we decide on them or not. But if we are intentional about how we use our resources, and what we do with our gifts and talents, we can be “rich toward God.”