Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Bethany Bullet - December 10, 2013

Luke 15:11-32
11 Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons.12 The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.

13 “Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. 14 After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. 16 He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.

17 “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18 I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ 20 So he got up and went to his father.

“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.

21 “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’

22 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. 24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.

25 “Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. 27 ‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’
28 “The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. 29 But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’

31 “‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. 32 But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’”

For generations many have referred to the above text as the Parable of the Prodigal Son.  Some have called it The Story of the Two Brothers.  Yet, others have known this as The Account of the Gracious Father.  Let’s examine it under a different name:  The Memoir of a Generous Life.  A generous life is what the father lived.

One son was greedy, the other self-righteous and selfish.

Yet the father gave generously from hands that were able and a heart that was humble.

Through the years preachers have asked hearer which son they identified with most.  Many have chosen this one or that one, some have said both, while for others it depends on the day; yet no one can claim they’ve never resembled one or the other.

In fact, in order to offer either (and all) of His sons (and daughters too) a welcome home, the Father must make an Advent introduction of another Son.  One more noble and pure than His brothers (and sisters), One who is holy and perfect like the Father Himself.  That Son, Jesus Christ, of course is the one through whom all sons and daughters hear the Words of the Father’s mercy and receive a home of eternal welcome.

The generous life lived by the Father that provides our noble and pure Brother, our holy and perfect Lord and Savior, is the ONLY way through which those who sometimes wander in wanton greed or those who on occasion stew in selfishness and self-righteousness alike find a home with God. 

What does this mean for sons and daughters who have received the Father’s mercy and welcome and desire to live a generous life like their Lord?

1.       We give from hands that are able.  This means we understand how wealthy we are and whose wealth it is we truly possess.
2.       We give from a heart that is humble.  This means we don’t look for recognition, we don’t tabulate and calculate where we fall compared to the rest of the family, we simply give; in hopes that through our giving the wayward or the stuck will find a welcome home.
3.       Metaphorically it means that we realize not all gifts will be the same.  PROPORTIONATE GIVING (as the Blue Print deems it) recognizes that the proportionate gift of some will be fattened calves (vs. 23) others young goats (vs. 29) and still others pen feed (vs. 16)  that is immaterial, what matters is that it is offered generously from hands that are able and a heart that is humble.
4.       Finally the implications of the text call us to embrace the reality that while lost sons (and daughters) ONLY receive a home-coming welcome from the Father through the generous gift of Christ, OFTEN Christ is received through ministry that is funded through the generous gift of Christians.

-Pastor Kevin Kritzer


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