FRIDAY 26 JUNE 2020
Good morning friends,
Let me begin with a story which you may well be familiar with, but like all good stories it’s worth the re-telling.
A teenage girl and her parents had been at odds with each other over everything; music, dress, appearance, her friends.
She would rebel. They would exert their authority by grounding her.
While retreating to her room, she would often yell at them, “I hate you!”
One day she ran away from home.
She runs away to the big city.
She is not there more than two nights when she meets a man who drives one of the nicest cars she has ever seen.
He buys her a meal.
Gives her a place to stay.
He gives her some pills that make her feel better.
You know where this is going. She ends up working for him, servicing men who pay a good price because she is underage.
She lives in a penthouse. She orders room service. Life is exciting.
A year later, she starts to show signs of getting sick.
Not wanting to take chances, her boss turns on her and he throws her out into the street. She is now addicted to drugs and the few tricks she turns is just enough to support her habit.
Now that she is homeless, there is no such thing as a safe place to get a good night sleep.
One night, while lying there, cold and hungry and very frightened, she begins to think of home.
She says to herself, “Why did I leave?”
She began to cry and she wanted nothing more than to go back home. And one night she worked up the nerve to actually phone home.
The two times she called it went to the answering machine so she just hung up, the third time she called; she found the courage to leave a message.
“Dad, Mum, it’s me. I was wondering about coming home. I’m catching a bus , and it’ll get there about midnight tomorrow.”
“If you’re not there, it’s ok, you maybe don’t want to see me”
It was a long seven hour journey, and all the while, she was rehearsing what she would say to her dad if he was there to greet her.
“Dad, I’m sorry. I know I was wrong. It’s not your fault; it’s all mine. Dad, can you forgive me?”
Over and over again she worked on perfecting her words, not even knowing for sure whether or not her parents would be there to greet her.
As the bus pulled into the bus station, she looked out the window, and her eyes locked onto a group of about forty brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, cousins and grandparents, even a great-grandmother was in that crowd.
They are wearing party hats and blowing whistles, and behind them was a big sign that read, “Welcome Home!”
Out from that crowd, stepped her dad. With tears running down her cheeks, she begins to recite the lines she had rehearsed over and over again on the bus.
But before she could get past the first words, her dad stops her and says,
“Hush, child. We’ve got no time for that. No time for apologies. You’ll be late for the party waiting for you at home.” (Adapted from a story by Phillip Yancey)
You know the story, I know the story, for Jesus first told the story, you will find it in Luke’s Gospel chapter 15: 11-24.
You know the story and I know the story, for it is your story and it is my story.
It’s the greatest love story ever told, the Father’s love for His wayward sons and daughters, played out day in and day out.
“When Israel was a boy, I loved him, I called my children out of Egypt, but the more I called, the further they went from me.
I was the one who taught them to walk; I was the one who had taken them in my arms; but they did not remember that I had looked after them, that I had led them in the bonds of love, that I had lifted them like a little child to my cheek, that I bent down to feed them.”
We pray : “Father God, We are sorry for the times we have turned away from you. Please forgive us, We love you.”
“How can I give you up? How can I abandon you?
My heart will not let me do it, my love for you is too strong.
For I am God, and not a man.
I, the Holy One am with you.”
And all God’s people said, “AMEN!!!”
And all God’s people said, “AMEN!!!”