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You Going to the Party?

Party? In Lent? You mean Fat Tuesday? Noooooo. There’s quite a celebration going on, though. Are you going?

This month we’ll hear about an oldie, but a goodie: the “Parable of the Prodigal Son.” The story begins with the younger son taking an early inheritance and migrating to a distant land, where he received little return on his investments. Once in a position to have others work for him and his family, the younger brother now in a foreign country and funds depleted contracts himself out for labor. It’s when his palate became accustomed to only leftovers and his own sweat that the younger brother began to contemplate his predicament. He sets out to return to his father’s estate with the intention of working as a hired hand for him, as he has realized that he has squandered sonship.

The second act of the story centers on the varied reception of the younger son. The father levels-up his love and extends unbridled mercy, rushes to meet him and rejoices at his return. He doesn’t ask about the inheritance. Indeed there is no inquiry, only embrace. On the other hand, older brother holds little back, accusing his younger brother of partying away a portion of the family estate and disdains the fact that his father is hosting a celebration in honor of the return of his younger brother.

The parable ends with the father pleading with the older brother to join the celebration. We aren’t told whether or not the older brother joins- we have to make that decision. Will we join the celebration? Jesus in this masterful parable demonstrates that God is a God of mercy, and so if we are going to join in the communal celebration of God, then we must also partake in God’s ethic of mercy, we must level-up. There is no room for qualifiers to join the banquet. The father accepted the lost just as he was. God accepts us just as we are. The question this parable then poses for us is, do we accept others just as they are? So, see you at the banquet? There’s a celebration of mercy every Sunday at Eden Church!
–Pastor Marvin