prodigal son

FORGIVENESS: Turning The Tables—Do We Forgive the Father of the Prodigal?

August 27, 2017

Let’s face it, the Father of the Prodigal Son comes off as some kind of superhuman hero. God the Father, to be specific. I like to spend time in that low, quiet quarter of my soul that sort of rumbles about looking for meaning and connection with the rest of the world. And it interests me when I feel the wind with the same kind of whisper on it blowing by me. A mumble here, a shrug there. It is there in the world: the grumbling against the mighty spirituality of God. I know it’s in me.  Grumbling about the vast difference between the absolute that is God and my hunger pangs which are relative. Relative to me. They relate to me.  And my stomach. And in those moments, I really don’t care about God’s absolute need to [...]

SERMON: Shoes by L. R. Tarsitano

August 13, 2017

“Put shoes on his feet.” (Luke 15:22) Quite often, it is the little details in the parables of our Lord that tell us the most about his teaching. It is the details that lead us deeper into the Gospel, refining our understanding of the eternal and life-giving Truth, so that we will not be satisfied with vague or careless summaries of the scriptures, such as “the parable of the Prodigal Son is about forgiveness.” Yes, of course, the parable of the Prodigal Son is about forgiveness, but at the same level of superficiality we might as well say that Huckleberry Finn is “about a boy” or that Gone With the Wind is “about a fire.” We wouldn’t think much of a school that didn’t dig deeper than [...]

SIN: A Deeper Understanding Of Sin by Timothy Keller

June 30, 2015

From The Prodigal God With this parable [of the Prodigal Son] Jesus gives us a much deeper concept of “sin” than any of us would have if he didn’t supply it.  Most people think of sin as failing to keep God’s rules of conduct, but, while not less than that, Jesus’s definition of sin goes beyond it. In her novel Wise Blood, Flannery O’Connor says of her character, Hazel Motes, that “there was a deep, black, wordless conviction in him that the way to avoid Jesus was to avoid sin.”  This is a profound insight.  You can avoid Jesus as Savior by keeping all the moral laws.  If you do that, then you have “rights.”  God owes you answered prayers, and a good life, and a ticket to [...]

FORGIVENESS: The Prodigal Son Comes Home

April 30, 2015

I could see him from the path.  Up there, on the hill.  Waving at me as though I were old Aunt Bertha coming back from attending some childbirth or something. How did he know that I was coming back?  Who tipped him off? Of course, he may have thought I was someone else. Someone he would be glad to see. Not me. Surely. I can’t believe how he treated me. He cried all over my tunic.  As though on top of everything else I’ve been through – and in – I needed that on my clothes too. What a wimp. Crying over me like I’d just come back from the dead, or something. And there was my brother, Joseph, waddling around, nodding and nodding that fat head of his.  I wonder when the last time he could poke himself and find a [...]

HEALING: A Fairy Tale — The Prodigal Daughter Returns by Connie May Fowler

March 28, 2014

From Circling Faith She had been drawn to the little sea shack nestled betwixt water and sky with the simple purity of a turtle whose true north is a singular spot of sand on an empty beach.  She was happy there.  The details of her life – errands into town, cleaning the house, writing her books – were timed in conjunction with the comings and goings of the Gulf because she loved to wander the beach at low tide and marvel over treasures the sea had momentarily left behind.  On this sandbar she called home, she felt in touch with the Goddess-spirit, with the eternal circle she viewed as sacred (life feeds death; death feeds life).  Troubles seemed less ponderous and joy less threatening in the presence of nature’s rhythms. [...]

POETRY: Paraphrase Of The Parable Of The Prodigal Son by Stanley Plumly

March 28, 2014

A certain man has two sons, as a king may have three daughters. The younger of his sons says to the father, give me the portion of goods that falls to me. The youngest daughter will say to her father, I love you in a portion that cannot be measured in goods. And the father-king, if he is old, may confuse, through pride, her meaning. The father of the two sons divides his living between them, with the result that the younger gathers all together and takes a journey to a far country where he wastes his substance with riotous living. Her sisters, taking advantage of their father’s confusion, may claim to love him without qualification of his living. There arises a famine in that far land and the younger son begins to be in want, so much [...]

THE PRODIGAL SON: The Prodigal Son And Reconciliation by Joel W. Huffstetler

March 27, 2014

From Boundless Love Then Jesus said, “There was a man who had two sons. The younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of the property that will belong to me.’ So he divided his property between them. A few days later the younger son gathered all he had and traveled to a distant country, and there he squandered his property is dissolute living. When he had spent everything, a severe famine took place throughout that country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed the pigs. He would gladly have filled himself with the pods that the pigs were eating; and no one gave him anything. But when he came to himself [...]

POETRY: Return Of The Prodigal Son by Léopold Sédar Senghor

March 26, 2014

(Senagalese; translated from the French by Melvin Dixon) To Jacque Maguilen Senghor, my nephew I And my heart once again on the threshold of stone under the portal of honor. And a tremor stirs the warm ashes of the lightening-eyed Man, my father. On my hunger, the dust of sixteen years of wandering And the uncertainty of Europe’s many roads And the noise of sprawling cities, and towns lashed by the waves Of a thousand passions in my head. My heart is still pure as the East Wind in March. II I challenge my blood in this head empty of ideas, in this belly Abandoned by courageous muscles. Guide me by the golden note of the silent flute, guide me, Herdsman, brother who shared my childhood dreams, naked under his milk belt And with the [...]

POETRY: Poems On Wayward Children, et alia

March 26, 2014

The Prodigal Son’s Brother Steve Kowit who’d been steadfast as small change all his life forgave the one who bounced back like a bad check the moment his father told him he ought to. After all, that’s what being good means. In fact, it was he who hosted the party, bought the crepes & champagne, uncorked every bottle. With each drink another toast to his brother: ex-swindler, hit-man & rapist. By the end of the night the entire village was blithering drunk in an orgy of hugs & forgiveness, while he himself, whose one wish was to be loved as profusely, slipped in & out of their houses, stuffing into a satchel their brooches & rings & bracelets & candelabra. Then lit out at dawn with a light heart [...]


March 25, 2014

For me, the parable of the prodigal son stands out from all the other parables.  For me, it doesn’t belong to that category of stories Jesus told, inscrutable teachings from the master.  And it isn’t one of those Chinese finger traps, where you go into the story and then find no apparent way out again. For me, the parable of the prodigal son is a ballet.  It is a story told in the sweep of arms, the delicate, and not so delicate, work of feet; based on pure emotion. And it is, first and foremost, a tragedy.  And, no, not, for me anyway, in the way it is normally viewed as a tragedy resolved rightly. It is as clear a telling of what it means to belong, and, more painfully, of what it means to feel as though we don’t [...]

THE PRODIGAL SON: Redefining Hope — Our Longing for Home by Timothy Keller

March 25, 2014

From The Prodigal God “He set off for a far country.” It is important to read Jesus’s parable of the lost son in the context of the whole of Luke, chapter 15, but the story has an even larger context.  If we read the narrative in light of the Bible’s sweeping theme of exile and homecoming we will understand that Jesus has given us more than a moving account of individual redemption.  He has retold the story of the whole human race, and promised nothing less than hope for the world. In Jesus’s parable the younger brother goes off into a distant country expecting a better life but is disappointed.  He begins to long for home, remembering the food in his father’s house.  So do we all. [...]

THE PRODIGAL SON: Walk With Me Into The Story by Henri J. M. Nouwen

March 24, 2014

From Home Tonight Read with a vulnerable heart.  Expect to be blessed in the reading.  Read as one awake, one waiting for the beloved.  Read with reverence. (A Tree Full of Angels, by Macrina Wiederkehr) From the outset I encouraged you to allow the Scripture story of the return of the prodigal son to descend into you – to move from your mind into your heart – so that images in this story become etched in your spirit. I trust that something new will be born in you that is very different from what happened in me; something that is yours alone.  Simply know that how you receive this parable is truly important.  The parable and the painting [Rembrandt’s The Return of the Prodigal Son] are inviting you in, calling you to [...]

THE CHURCH: The Church As Prodigal

February 11, 2014

The Parable of the Lost Son Then He said: “A certain man had two sons.  And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the portion of goods that falls to me.’ So he divided to them his livelihood.  And not many days after, the younger son gathered all together, journeyed to a far country, and there wasted his possessions with prodigal living.  But when he had spent all, there arose a severe famine in that land, and he began to be in want.  Then he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed swine.  And he would gladly have filled his stomach with the pods that the swine ate, and no one gave him anything. “But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How [...]

SPIRITUALITY: Jesus’s Story of Divine Forgiveness by Roger Haight

December 8, 2013

From Christian Spirituality For Seekers Then Jesus said, “There was a man who had two sons.  The younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of the property that will belong to me.’  So he divided his property between them.  A few days later the younger son gathered all he had and traveled to a distant country, and there he squandered his property in dissolute living.  When he had spent everything, a severe famine took place throughout that country, and he began to be in need.  So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed the pigs.  He would gladly have filled himself with the pods that the pigs were eating; and no one gave him anything.  But [...]

PRODIGAL SON: The Difference Between Grace And Love

November 21, 2013

So the words were flying around. Faith. Works. Salvation. Wesley and Calvin were mentioned. Both faith or works?  Or one at a time, one ruling over the other? It was all a pat decision. Salvation is based on faith AND works. Yipee. What do you think, Julia? Well, I don’t follow either Wesley or Calvin. And it’s God who is in charge of salvation. In my own (one of these days it might get to be) humble opinion. What? That’s right.  Man isn’t in charge of his own salvation. If it’s works, I call that ham Christianity: the occasion that after all I have done for you, God, now I get my plaque certifying my salvation.  (As one gets a ham at Christmas for work well done.) And faith can be so many things: a [...]

SERMON: The Prodigal Son by Billy Graham

December 2, 2012

Now tonight, let’s turn to the 15th chapter of Luke.  I’m not going to read the passage because it’s too long, but it is a familiar story that all of us have read and heard since childhood.  It is called, “The Story of the Prodigal Son.”  That’s what we call it.  There are many ways we could term this passage from Luke’s Gospel.  It could be called, “The Story of the Loving Father.”  It could be called, “The Story of the Church Member Without Christ,” because that is exactly what the elder brother was. But tonight I want to dwell on the story of this boy because he was a rebel.  He rebelled against his father.  And you know what I read the other day?  That over two thousand young people who run away from home [...]

REFLECTION: The Prodigal Son

November 30, 2012

A few years ago now I sat through an Advent Quiet Day that focused on Henri Nouwen’s book about the parable of the prodigal son. I was very impressed that a man, not usually found leading quiet days, but for whom I felt great respect for the depth and sensitivity of his observations, was leading it. And I grew even more impressed as he took on each of the three roles expressed in the parable and dressed himself up, so to speak, in each one’s part of the play.  I couldn’t imagine myself doing that, considering myself as each one, each different one: the casting-off, cast-off younger son; the open-hearted, open-handed father; the self-absorbed, whining older brother. That is a lot of personas to find in oneself. As I sat there in the [...]

SERMON: The Prodigal Son by James Weldon Johnson

November 30, 2012

Young man— Young man— Your arm’s too short to box with God. But Jesus spake in a parable, and he said: A certain man had two sons Jesus didn’t give this man a name, But his name is God Almighty. And Jesus didn’t call these sons by name, But ev’ry young man, Ev’rywhere, Is one of these two sons. And the younger son said to his father, He said: Father, divide up the property, And give me my portion now. And the father with tears in his eyes said: Son, Don’t leave your father’s house. But the boy was stubborn in his head, And haughty in his heart, And he took his share of his father’s goods, And went into a far-off country. There comes a time, There comes a time When ev’ry young man looks out from his father’s house, [...]