4th Sunday of Lent, Year C
Luke 15:1-3, 11-32
You are Lost. You Just Don’t Know It.
When we’d been married just a year or so, my wedding band rolled off the bathroom counter and down a heat vent. I freaked, and Mark did all but remove the ductwork to look for it. As far as I know it’s still in the pipes somewhere in Georgia. Though I have a replacement, I think about that ring from time to time. Nearly twenty-four years later, I’d still like to have it back.
The thing is, we’re all somewhere in the ductwork. Even if we think we aren’t lost, we are. Perhaps especially then. If we think we have all the answers, that we know exactly what God would have us do, we’re lost. We aren’t God. We can’t know the inner workings of Divine Love.
The prodigal son thinks he knows what’s what, and his version doesn’t include his family. He takes off. He’s lost. The older brother thinks he knows what’s what, and on the surface, his version puts family first. In reality, it focuses on himself. He’s lost. We all fall into one of these two camps. We think either everything else is better than where we are, so let’s go. Or we’re frightened of the outside and our fear keeps us in line and the outside at bay because the outside is wrong.
The awesome thing is God loves us regardless. REGARDLESS! Like the father in the story, God reaches for us everyday. Did you read that? Every. Single. Day. It doesn’t matter where we are, what we’re thinking, or who we’re hurting. God reaches out to us every single morning. (Or nighttime, if you’re an owl.) He’s not just always waiting for us, He’s actively reaching for us; He wants us back. But because of our free will, He limits Himself to riding out and waiting for us.
God knows that what each of needs to come back is different. Particularly if we think we don’t need to return because we’re already there. Maybe we need to wallow in a misery of our own making for a bit like the younger son. But when we “come to our senses” (v. 17), God has beaten us to it and has ALREADY ridden out to meet us. But, perhaps to come back, we need to feel slighted and then be brought up short by Love like the older son. Just the same, when we come to our senses, God has ALREADY issued us an invitation to the party.
Divine Love knows we’re all wrong, and It loves us anyway. Divine Love knows we’re stuck up and loves us anyway. Divine Love knows we all put ourselves first and loves us anyway. Divine Love knows we operate out of fear and loves us anyway. When we surface out of the ductwork, God, the incarnation of Divine Love, is already at the party. Will you come?