By Kathy Nolasco
Plantation UMC, Plantation, FL
First, read Luke 15:31-32
Softly and tenderly Jesus is calling, calling for you and for me;
See on the portals he’s waiting and watching, watching for you and for me.
Come home, come home; you who are weary come home;
Earnestly, tenderly, Jesus is calling, calling, O sinner, come home!
By Will L. Thompson, 1880, Public Domain
In the parable of the prodigal son, Jesus introduces us to a loving father who yearns for the return of his child. For years, he waits and watches for the return of his wandering child. He glances repeatedly out the window, hoping to see his child approaching. He sits on his front porch to survey the horizon, hoping to see the figure of his child in the distance coming home. Waiting and watching. Waiting and watching. Then one day, it happens. The father sees his child on the horizon, walking toward him. He runs to his approaching child and welcomes him back with arms, and heart, wide open.
Then Jesus introduces us to the oldest child, who has also wandered from home. This child strayed not from his father’s estate, but from the mercy and love that his father taught him. He also needs to return home, to reconnect with his father and to reclaim the love and mercy his father modeled for him. He needs to once again become his father’s child. He complains to his father and reveals how far his heart had strayed. But instead of rebuking him, the loving father shows the same unconditional mercy and love that he showed his youngest. “Son, you are always with me, and everything I have is yours.”
The season of Lent is a time to “come home.” It’s a time to recognize that we have wandered away from our Savior. It’s a time to remember that God is watching and waiting for our return. It’s a time to reclaim that we are children of our heavenly Parent, loved unconditionally. And it’s a time to recommit to staying true to that identity each and every day. “Earnestly, tenderly, Jesus is calling, calling, O sinner, come home!”
Prayer: God of Endless Mercy, you welcome back all your children, no matter how far they have strayed.As we return to you this Lent, embrace us as your children. Reassure us of your mercy. Remind us of your call, that we might live in your love and mercy every day. In the name of Christ we pray. Amen.
- When have you identified with the wanderings of the younger child?
- When have you identified with the wanderings of the oldest child?
- How has your understanding of God’s unconditional love affected your faith story?