Monday, April 1, 2019


In our house there are more than four seasons.
There is of course Winter, spring, summer, and fall.
But we also include the times of year when the season is changing from one to another but it isn't quite there yet.
For example, right now is Spwinter.
That time of year where it is technically spring, but there is still some snow on the ground and there is still a chill in the air.
The flowers haven't popped up yet.
These extra seasons are a way to talk about the transitions times.
The in between times.
We live most of our lives in transition.
We are like these times.
Rarely are we all one thing or another.

When we read this familiar and wonderful parable from Luke's Gospel we often think about which son we are.
Are we the son who is irresponsible.
The son looking for adventure and riotous living.
Are we the liberal son, playing fast and loose with the rules.
Off doing things that are parents would not approve of.
Or are we the good son.
The one who works hard, does what they are told.
The one lives to please their parents and make them happy.
Are we the son who likes to color in the lines and wants everyone else to do the same.
Are we the conservative son who measures the good and bad, and sees the world in black in white.
Are we the son who is resentful because we have done everything right and yet we get no reward.

Let me suggest to you this morning that none of us are only one of those things.
We are often both, sometimes within the same day.
In Luke's telling of the Prodigal son there is no good son and bad son.
Just two sons who make different life choices.
There is the father hoping that both sons will get along and love each other.
Which son are you?
We are usually a complicated mixture of both.

I am willing to bet that we have all made poor choices in our lives.
Or at least there are things we wish we had done differently.
I am willing to bet that at some point in our lives we have resented someone because they got something we thought they hadn't earned.
The truth is that we are never as good as we think we are.
Nor are we as bad as we think.
The older son thinks he has done everything right, but he has failed to love like his father does.
The younger son thinks that he is no longer worthy to be called a son, but he has failed to see the love has for him.
Both sons fail to see the love of the father as the key to who they really are.

For a long time I was known in my family as the prodigal son.
My sisters would make jokes about it.
When I would come home from college my older sister would joke,  "Kill the fatted calf the prodigal son has returned."
And one could look at my life and for a time that was true about me.
I did have that time in my life when I was rebellious, I liked to push the boundaries.
But I am not only that person.
I also wanted to please my parents.
I also wanted to be respectable person and make something of my life.
And the truth be told there are lots of time when I resent the world because I didn't get something I thought I deserved.
What my sisters and I share is that we know that our parents loved us no matter what.
We know that God loves us no matter what because our parents taught us that by how they loved us.

I got my haircut this week.
I was talking to the barber about raising kids.
We both agreed on two things.
One, it was a real joy and honor to be a father and watch our kids grow up.
And two that neither of us had any idea what we were doing.
We were both just making things up as we went along.
Our kids were challenging us to think about how best to raise kids.
I find this as a parent that I am learning about things through my kids all the time.
I am not saying they are smarter than me, or that they know more than me.
I am saying that I am learning about the complexities of what it means to be human through them.
Because they are complex people.
Sometimes they are really awesome and I am blown away by their awesomeness.
But other times they drive me crazy.
My job is to love them through all of it.
Isn't that a great way to describe God?!
Isn't that what this parable really about?

A father had two sons.
And he loved them both.
He loved them when they were good and bad.
He loved them when they worked and when the lazily spent all of their inheritance.
He loved them when they moved away and when they stayed home.
He loved them when they sinned against him, and when they did what they were told.
He loved them so much that he threw a party for them.

This is why this parable is so well known and so beloved, because it speaks to our lives.
We have all been both those brothers at some point.
We have had someone try and tell us how much they love us.
And for some reason we have been unable to see it.
Maybe if you are a parent you have had that experience of trying to get across how much you love your kids and they can't see it.
Or maybe you have been someone's kid and tried to explain why you feel misunderstood and couldn't get your parent to understand.
Maybe you were rebellious at some point.
Maybe you were looking for someone to tell you that you are loved this much.

The beauty of God is that God loves us that much.
That is how we survive being a parent, or a child.
That  is how we survive as adults who are a complicated mixture of things all the time.
We survive because God is having a party.
God is inviting us in.
God has killed the fatted calf, and brought us a robe, and a ring from our finger.
God has embraced us, and God is going out into the field to find us in our sulking state.
Are we ready to join?
Are we ready to be forgiven?
Do we know we are loved?
Are we going to the party?

It isn't quite spring yet, and it isn't winter anymore.
It is sprwinter.
We are not merely sinners and we are not saints.
We are God's beloved children.

I hope you know today how much God loves you.
The you that is a complicated mixture of both sons.
The you that is here today in this pew.
The you that is out there in the world.
That is who God loves and invites to the party.