The Prodigal: Sin & Seeking, Exile & Return

Luke 15:11-32

Then He said: “A certain man had two sons.  And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the portion of goods that falls to me.’ So he divided to them his livelihood.  And not many days after, the younger son gathered all together, journeyed to a far country, and there wasted his possessions with prodigal living.  …  But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!  I will arise and go to my father, and will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you, and I am no longer worthy to be called your son.  Make me like one of your hired servants.’  And he arose and came to his father.  … It was right that we should make merry and be glad, for your brother was dead and is alive again, and was lost and is found.’

SIN, EXILE, AND RETURN: 

“For the heart of the Scriptures is a continuing pattern of exile and return, of loss, hope, an restoration, of new life out of renunciation and death.  And it emerges not only from narrative, but from prophecy, psalm, and hymns; from vision and exhortation; from parable, image, and metaphor.

This pattern recurs in the Hebrew Bible in three great movements.  The first is the primeval exile from the Garden of Eden, echoed and extended into hope in the call of Abraham to leave his kindred and his country and seek a land of promise.  The second is the bondage in Egypt of the children of Israel, their deliverance in the Exodus, their entry into the land, their building of Jerusalem, the joy of the whole world.  The third is the faithlessness of the people, the destruction of Jerusalem, the Babylonian Captivity, and the promise, beyond hope, that the dry bones will live, the people return to their land, the walls of Jerusalem be rebuilt, the union of God and His people be celebrated as a marriage feast of everlasting joy.”    (Pritchard, Gretchen Wolff, Offering the Gospel to Children, pg 43)

SEEKING:

Amma Sarah said, “If I prayed God that all people should approve of my conduct, I should find myself a penitent at the door of each one, but I shall rather pray that my heart may be pure toward all.”

Amma Sarah did not seek the approval of others; likewise, she remained nonjudgmental in her attitude toward others and their own journeys toward God.  As in any other time in church history, there were strong personalities in Sarah’s day, but she did not follow fads.  She sought to remain true to her own simple path toward God.”   (Swan, Laura, The Forgotten Desert Mothers, pg 39)