Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Still A Long Way Off

And he said, “There was a man who had two sons. And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of property that is coming to me.’ And he divided his property between them. Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took a journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in reckless living. And when he had spent everything, a severe famine arose in that country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs. And he was longing to be fed with the pods that the pigs ate, and no one gave him anything.

“But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father's hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.”’ And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate.

“Now his older son was in the field, and as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. And he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf, because he has received him back safe and sound.’ But he was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him, but he answered his father, ‘Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him!’ And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.’” Luke 15:11-32

Today I am a long way off from home. I am in Montana to help listen to the Native community in the
Episcopal Church and, together with them, begin to encourage a new ministry here. I always feel the distance when I travel, despite the general ease of air flights. A dislocation, a sense of disorientation and I cannot help but wonder why I left. We all want to explore and wander and likewise we all want a sense of security and belonging.

The story of the father and his two sons comes around quite often in our daily readings. It is an important story, a story of love that has no limits. It is the story of God's love for us no matter how lost we get. And it is our story. The story of our need to take off and wander, thinking we know better and don't need the rules of our parents' homes. It is God's constant reply to our willfulness, selfishness and jealousies. God says to us, "I will love you no matter what and always meet you on the road with open arms." Something we need to hear every day.

Today I ask God to help me be grateful for a home to return to and the joy of exploring new places. May we remember today that no matter hoe far we wander, God is waiting with open arms on the road, running to meet us. And when we know the joy of that divine embrace, may we share the love and shower one another with welcome and peace.

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