Daily Readings/ Editorial
Scriptures to be read before the sermon on Sunday, June 28:
Monday: Luke 22:47-71
Wednesday: Luke 23:44-24:12
Thursday: Luke 24:13-53
Friday: Acts 1
Saturday: No Assignment
“Prodigal Son Parable”
James Howell says that preaching a sermon on the Prodigal Son is like the preacher who dreamed he was preaching and when he woke up, he was. The story is so old, so familiar. It’s like an old joke you’ve heard a thousand times or an email that has been forwarded to you for the hundredth time.
But as Clarence Jordan also said, “The parables of Jesus are sneaky. Just when we thought we heard them, they sneak up on us like a Trojan Horse. They look harmless enough but just about the time we get comfortable, out of a parable comes something that challenges us to look again and see differently, to listen and really hear.”
In the parable of the Prodigal Son, have you ever thought about the pigs? I ask that because my entire adolescent life was filled with hours and hours of taking care of pigs - feeding them, farrowing them, cleaning them, showing them, and selling them. One thing becomes very clear when you live with pigs on a daily basis. They have huge appetites. They will eat whatever goes into their pen. Not just corn and other grains, but, much to my dismay, my high school letter jacket, which fell off the fence into their pen. They are just a bundle of appetites!
Interestingly, the younger son in the parable has something in common with the pigs he ends up having to feed. He had to have his appetites and desires met. He couldn’t imagine having to endure life until the inheritance was divided at or near the end of his father’s life. He couldn’t stand not being able to do whatever he desired to do, whenever he wanted to do it. As such, he couldn’t wait to get away from home and his father.
All too often we preachers stop here to preach. Preaching has often been about stamping out desires. And certainly there is a case to be made for needing to deal with one’s desires that goes all the way back to the Garden of Eden. But as C.S. Lewis wrote, “The problem isn’t that our desires are too strong; the problem is that we are far too easily pleased.” Like the young man in the story, we settle for mere trifles like money, sex, and material possessions, when our Father wants to give us true wealth.
This is a place where we have been looking but not seeing, listening to but not really hearing. The wealth that is being offered in this parable is true intimacy. The Father goes out to both sons in an attempt to bring them home – restore ruptured relationship. In that way, the parable speaks about our relationship with our heavenly Father.
We are not meant for the far country, however enticing it may be. We are not pigs, though at times we act just about like them. We are sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father. This story reminds us that our desires will never be truly filled until they are filled in a loving relationship with Him. No matter what pig-pens of life we find ourselves in or the self-made pigsties we have created for ourselves, every one of them will ultimately leave us with a gnawing hollow feeling, worse than the young man’s hunger in a famine. That feeling is not a mere human anomaly – reminding us of our fallible and fallen condition. It is something that was designed for a much, much greater and wonderful purpose – it is a loving Father’s way of calling us home and doing whatever it took to make the way home possible.