The lost son
Jesus famously told a tale of two sons (Luke 15:11-31) which is as much about their eventual reconciliation as it is about the compassion and forgiveness of their father. The younger son decides he has had enough of life on the family farm, and demands his share of it, so that he may do as he chooses. In this he is, in effect, saying to his father “I wish you were dead”. The father, incredibly, accedes to his son’s demands, who proceeds to a far country and squanders everything. Sounds strangely familiar, methinks. In his gospel, Luke places this parable in his “collection of lost things” in Chapter 15: the lost sheep, lost coin, and lost son. The return of the prodigal has featured strongly in art down the centuries, most famously Rembrandt’s interpretation, which repays careful consideration. In the parable (at least) the young man does come to his senses, and returns home, knowing that he cannot ask for anything anymore. He begs simply to be taken on as a worker. However the father will not hear of it, and throws a party. “My son, who was dead, is alive again. He was lost, and is found.” This provokes the ire of the elder son, who has shouldered the burden of the farm since his brother’s departure. The words of the father to the elder son remind us all whose mercy we continually need, whether we consider ourselves the elder or the younger in the story: “my son, you are always with me.” We are also reminded by Luke that the good shepherd’s response to the lost sheep is to leave the rest in the fold, and go off looking for the missing one until he finds it and brings it home. The stories are the essential human drama – the need for repentance and forgiveness being a first step towards any eventual reconciliation.
Worship Services for Sunday 15th January
9.30am Informal Worship at St John’s, Stoke Row with Mr Peter Ferguson
11am Family Service with baptism at St Peter and Paul, Checkendon with Canon Kevin Davies
Midweek zoom service: Wednesday Evensong at 5.00pm 410 935 129
Advance notice: Sunday 29th July. Team service at St Peter and St Paul, Checkendon, 10.30am
We are in the Epiphany season, when we celebrate the revealing of Jesus the Saviour, to Israel, and to the whole world. In your prayers, please ask God for his truth and justice to be seen in all the earth; in local media, on the internet, in local government, in family life, in business and law, in education and health, in international relations. Let us pray that we will see God’s glory in Jesus Christ, and that our praises and churches will bring joy to his heart.
Here’s an orchestral version of “Praise my Soul” recorded at Prom Praise in 2014, with Graham Kendrick and the All Soul’s Orchestra to lift your day.