THE PRODIGAL FATHER

Then he 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!’”

Source | Eugene Peterson, The Message, Luke 15: 11-32

PONDER AND CONSIDER

In The Prodigal God, Timothy Keller uses this parable to describe two different types of people with two different ways of engaging the world, each represented by the two brothers.  One type needs to experience the world, make mistakes, and seek forgiveness.  The other needs to stay behind, work hard, only to be disappointed when God treats both kinds equally.

  • Where do you see yourself in the story? Are you the younger brother? The older brother? The welcoming father? How do you feel as you enter the story and watch it unfold?
  • In both cases – the younger brother away with the pigs, or the older brother much closer but still outside the Father’s house – what is it going to take to wake up and come to your senses?
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THE GIFT OF LIGHT

There once lived a wise and wealthy farmer who had three sons: Arnold, Brian and Charles.

One day he thought that after his death his sons might quarrel about the property and decided to divide it. He called his sons and told them about his division . He said the house would go to the person who could fill the room with something bought with the coins he gave to the three sons. The three went to the market. Arnold bought straw. Brian bought sacks of feathers and upon reaching home they waited for their brother Charles.

When Charles appeared, he had nothing in his hands. Arnold and Brian thought that their brother wasn’t able to find anything to fill the room.

Arnold threw the straw on the floor. The room was still more than half empty.

“Well done” said the father and Arnold smiled.

After they picked up the straw and cleaned the room, Brian began to pour out feathers from the sacks.When he had emptied the last sack, the room was still less than half full.

“Now we shall see what our youngest has to offer.” said the father.

Charles went to the middle of the room and took out a small candle from his pocket. Once he lit it, the whole room was filled with a soft light.

Father, Arnold and Brian all believed that the house should go to Charles.

Source | Loosely based on a story found in Paulo Coelho

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I came across a variation of this story in the form of a riddle:

An old man wanted to leave all of his money to one of his three sons, but he didn’tknow which one he should give it to. He gave each of them a few coins and toldthem to buy something that would be able to fill their living room. The first man bought straw, but there was not enough to fill the room. The second bought somesticks, but they still did not fill the room. The third man bought two things thatfilled the room, so he obtained his father’s fortune. What were the two things that the man bought?

The wise son bought a candle and a box of matches. After lighting the candle, thelight filled the entire room

PONDER AND CONSIDER

  • There is not enough darkness in all the world to put out the light of even one small candle. | Robert Alden