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A prodigal God

Rev. Lynn Watson
Bloomfield United Church

You know how sometimes you learn a new word, and then it ends up showing up several times the next day?  Well that’s kind of what’s kind of what’s happened to me over the last few days: I’ve been running into the parable we’ve called the “Prodigal Son.”

We’ve all heard the story about the son who goes to his father and asks for his inheritance so that he may go and make his own way in the world, but eventually he squanders his fortune on “dissolute living.”  Eventually he finds himself in an unsavoury situation and decides that he’d be better off eating some crow instead of the fodder of pigs.  He’d go home and ask his father to forgive him.

As he is approaching his home his father spots him and recognizes him and greets him with a warm welcome deserving of a son who had never left.

So why do I call this musing the “prodigal God?”  First thing we need to remember is that this is a parable; a story meant to illustrate how things work in God’s world… ‘the kingdom of God.”  So the story is more about the father than it is about the son, right?

The second thing that we need to note is the meaning of the word prodigal.  For most of us we have had this word interpreted as wanton or reckless or sinful, but its primary meaning is “extravagant, exceedingly abundant, profuse.”  Which begs the question: “Who is the extravagant one in the story?” and “What does the story teach me about God?”

What amazes me about this story is not the carelessness of the son, but the way the father squanders his abundance of mercy on the son.  It makes me wonder if it had become the father’s habit to everyday go to the end of his lane and check in every direction to see if the son was coming home.  What a prodigal God!

This story brings me to tears.  I think of my Mom standing in the kitchen window looking for that 1968 silver blue Cutlass to round the corner, horn a blazing.  I think of the way my Mom’s face would light up when the first son came home for a visit.  Oh she was just as glad to see anyone of us, but the one I remember most is Dennis.  He was the first of the children to leave, and maybe he was reputed to have been the most prodigal….certainly more than his younger sister!

For me this story is not about how far from God we can get, nor the amount of humility and self-flagellation required to win the mercy of God.  This story is about a foolish God watching and waiting to welcome any one of us home…to celebrate our homecoming, and to place upon each of us the mark of belonging….the family trait of lavish love.

Prodigal God, remind us again of your extravagant love and longing for each of us.  Amen.

April 9th is our annual Spring smorgasbord and Silent Auction 4:30 to 7:00
April 11th an after school drama program starts 3:45 to 5:00…this year’s production is “The Conference of the Birds”
April 16th is Family Skate at the Wellington arena 3-5 with Chili and Pie supper to follow at Wellington United Church
April 22nd, Good Friday, at 2:00 pm we will be doing Ukrainian Easter Eggs (Pysanky)

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