It is why there is really more than one prodigal in this story. In fact, we may want to consider how extravagantly reckless the father’s love truly is. For what is more prodigal, more reckless, than the father’s preemptive forgiveness, than the father’s all-embracing, extravagant love toward both his sons?
Typically, when we read this story, we read it through the lens of American individualism, which means that when we read this story, we read it as a story of individual repentance: it becomes a story about how “I” as an individual can no longer find “my” way. “I” am lost. And then one day, when “I” come to my senses, when “I” decide to go back home. “I” say “I” am sorry. “I” then return home, receive a banquet in “my” honor, and “my” family’s love exceeds all human reason.
There is nothing wrong with this understanding of the parable of the prodigal son. As individuals, we do lose our way; it is part of the human journey, no matter the age!
My wife Peggy and I got lost hiking last week in Brown County. Take wrong turn and oops! We are not in Brown County State Park in anymore! Even with GPS, we can get lost! In fact, I heard on the radio the other day that we all are getting worse at finding our way because of GPS! That is, we all are losing a sense of direction – both internally and externally.
What are way we are lost today, or cut off from community, from family? How we may return home and be reconciled? What are the ways we may read this story as a story of reunion and come to our senses?
Pastor Andy Kinsey