A Lenten Parable

I'm working on the Parable of the Prodigal Son for March 14th. I've been working on it for about a week now. Of course, the three main themes are: (1) the pentitent son, (2) the jealous older brother, and (3) the overarching them is that Helmut Thielike called "The Waiting Father." For this Sunday I've decided to center in on several themes: (1) God's ways are not ours, (2) the cycle of sin and repentance is part of every human being.

The theme of God's difference is one which is often in my mind. The Bible tells us that "My Ways are not yours." It also speaks of God as both person and Being beyond personhood. For me the most poignant example of this latter thought is found in Moses' encounter with the Burning Bush. When God speaks in response to Moses' question of His identity, God says: "I am That I am." There is a distinctive sense of God's 'Otherness' in this response.

Yet, Jesus speaks of God as 'Father.' He even calls God 'Abba,' which is like our word 'daddy.' The intimacy of this cannot be exaggerated. God is Other...but...God is also Daddy.

Jesus illustrates this concept for us in the Parable of the Prodigal Son. Thielike, whom I mentioned, calls this The Parable of the Waiting Father. As a theologian, he felt that the parable reveals more of the nature of God than it did about the character of the son. I think he's right.

So, when I think of this parable I have come to realize that the central figure is not either son, but the Waiting Father...Daddy!

Illustrating the sermon this week I'll be using Casting Crowns' video of their song "The Prodigal Son." In it there is this haunting line. "Daddy, here I am again, will you take me back tonight?"

That line speaks to the Lenten process. We come to our Father in repentance. In remorse we ask, "Daddy, here I am again, will you take me back tonight?"

And the Waiting Father doesn't hesitate. His arms open...and He enfolds us.

Curtis Rivers


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