Readings are here.
Notes toward a sermon.
A retelling of how much God wants us to be in right relationship with God and each other - the father tries to get each son to see the love - not just good and bad, right and wrong.
A young couple was very poor. The wife had a $50 dollar bill in her pocket for groceries for the month. As she headed out to the grocery store, she stopped by the bathroom. Then she noticed the $50 was gone. She knew exactly where it was!! The husband took apart the whole plumbing system right down to the septic tank and found the $50. God loves us and wants us in relationship more than that. God will seek us out to the worst possible places to show us that love. It is called grace -- just like this church where we are today. What does that say to us as people of Grace Astoria?
Some background on the cultural setting thanks to Kenneth Bailey.
“As the prodigal approaches his village, he knows that he’ll face the Kezazah, a Jewish tradition that permanently rejects (or shuns) a villager who loses his money among foreigners. He must reach his father before the villagers reach him. Unexpectedly, he sees his father sprinting toward him past on-looking villagers—not with anger on this face but joy. Before the prodigal utters a word of his confession, the father hugs and repeatedly kisses him. Overwhelmed, the prodigal spontaneously utters “I’m not worthy” having experienced the bread of life, grace in its truest form. The prodigal’s planned words of repentance transformed into an experience of accepting his father’s love. Joyfully, the father proclaims that his son is alive—perhaps for the first time. The father, aware that his son is starving seeing his tattered clothes and wasted frame, chooses to first address his son’s starving soul. The father provides three inedible things for his son’s soul: Shoes signifying that he accepts him as a son, not as a hired servant as the prodigal planned; a robe indicating how special he is to him; and a signet ring empowering him to transact business within the village. There will be no kezazah. The father will surely protect his son.” (Bailey)