Jesus was hanging out at the pub with all kinds of riff raff, roughians, and scallywags. In the late morning when the pub closed and its contents spilled out in to the streets Jesus and his merry band of drunken revelers were meet by a group of upright citizen headed to the early church service. As the two groups met the churchgoers scoffed at Jesus and the group he was hanging with.
The drunken band of men and women were ridiculed by the church folk. With their noses righteously extended in to the sky they pointed out he derelict nature of the intoxicated mass. Proudly they pointed to the positive and divine nature of their actions in comparison to those of this now smoking and heaving mass of pub champions.
Jesus stood at the hot dog cart buying hot dogs for the stirring crowd. Who was getting agitated as the evening’s buzz wore off and the gawking churchy folk extending fingers at people and wondering out loud, ““He takes in sinners and eats meals with them, treating them like old friends.”
Jesus crumples the foil from the chili cheese dog he just finished and said, “There was once a man who had two sons. The younger said to his father, ‘Father, I want right now what’s coming to me.’
“So the father divided the property between them. It wasn’t long before the younger son packed his bags and left for a distant country. There, undisciplined and dissipated, he wasted everything he had. After he had gone through all his money, there was a bad famine all through that country and he began to hurt. He signed on with a citizen there who assigned him to his fields to slop the pigs. He was so hungry he would have eaten the corncobs in the pig slop, but no one would give him any.
“That brought him to his senses. He said, ‘All those farmhands working for my father sit down to three meals a day, and here I am starving to death. I’m going back to my father. I’ll say to him, Father, I’ve sinned against God, I’ve sinned before you; I don’t deserve to be called your son. Take me on as a hired hand.’ He got right up and went home to his father.
“When he was still a long way off, his father saw him. His heart pounding, he ran out, embraced him, and kissed him. The son started his speech: ‘Father, I’ve sinned against God, I’ve sinned before you; I don’t deserve to be called your son ever again.’
“But the father wasn’t listening. He was calling to the servants, ‘Quick. Bring a clean set of clothes and dress him. Put the family ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Then get a grain-fed heifer and roast it. We’re going to feast! We’re going to have a wonderful time! My son is here—given up for dead and now alive! Given up for lost and now found!’ And they began to have a wonderful time.
“All this time his older son was out in the field. When the day’s work was done he came in. As he approached the house, he heard the music and dancing. Calling over one of the houseboys, he asked what was going on. He told him, ‘Your brother came home. Your father has ordered a feast—barbecued beef!—because he has him home safe and sound.’
“The older brother stalked off in an angry sulk and refused to join in. His father came out and tried to talk to him, but he wouldn’t listen. The son said, ‘Look how many years I’ve stayed here serving you, never giving you one moment of grief, but have you ever thrown a party for me and my friends? Then this son of yours who has thrown away your money on whores shows up and you go all out with a feast!’
“His father said, ‘Son, you don’t understand. You’re with me all the time, and everything that is mine is yours—but this is a wonderful time, and we had to celebrate. This brother of yours was dead, and he’s alive! He was lost, and he’s found!’ (Luke 15:3, 11b-32)”
It’s scary to leave.
[the other sibling(s) the parent (s) the Prodigal Child]
It’s scary go come home.
[the parent (s) the Prodigal Child the other sibling(s)]
It’s scary to stay.
[the Prodigal Child the other sibling(s) the parent(s)
No matter if you leave, come home, or stay it is a scary prospect. It is scary cause relationships put you in the game. Relationships allow for you to experience risk. Relationships connect us to others and in that connection we risk losing the identity that we forge together.
In relationship we learn that there is little difference between the drunken parade marching home and the righteousness filled march towards the Holy sanctuary of God Most High. In relationship we discover that there is no “Us and Them.” That in relationship the division and labels of human understanding dissolve barriers of fear, discomfort, challenge, and pride to reveal the Holy Jesus filled centers in our human Tootsie pops.
Henri Nouwen offers us this from his book of the Prodigal Son, “The more we become sensitive to our own journey the more we realize that we are leaving and coming back every day, every hour. Our minds wander away but eventually return; our hearts leave in search of affection and return sometimes broken; our bodies get carried away in their desires then sooner or later return. It’s never one dramatic life moment but a constant series of departures and returns.”
Life is about the relationships we are blessed with and maintain as we move along through this series of departures and returns. Trusting that we are tethered to the One that neither departs or returns because the one who fashioned and created us has and never will leave our side.