This Sunday, our Gospel reading is from Luke 15, the story of the prodigal or lost son. There are few passages in the Bible that better capture the power and beauty of the Gospel. I’m so looking forward to delving into this passage together!
While the story is commonly named after the youngest son, it is the father in the story whose character is the most integral. These past weeks, we've had a reproduction of Rembrandt’s painting of this story’s climactic scene set out during worship. The great spiritual writer, Henri Nouwen, reflecting on this painting and the father in Jesus’ story, wrote:
“For most of my life I have struggled to find God, to know God, to love God. I have tried hard to follow the guidelines of the spiritual life—pray always, work for others, read the Scriptures—and to avoid the many temptations to dissipate myself. I have failed many times but always tried again, even when I was close to despair.
Now I wonder whether I have sufficiently realized that during all this time God has been trying to find me, to know me, and to love me. The question is not “How am I to find God?” but “How am I to let myself be found by him?” The question is not “How am I to know God?” but “How am I to let myself be known by God?” And, finally, the question is not “How am I to love God?” but “How am I to let myself be loved by God?” God is looking into the distance for me, trying to find me, and longing to bring me home.”
Nouwen’s words are a reminder that all our discipline does not win God’s love and favor, and that any drawing near to Him is a result of first being found by Him. His love precedes ours. In the wilderness season of Lent, a season of discipline and self-examination, this is good news. God is seeking you out.
As we look at this passage on Sunday and as we celebrate at the Table may, we freshly know our Heavenly Father as one with compassion, who seeks us out and receives us wholeheartedly in Christ.
Grace and peace,