Tonight at the Tuesday evening meal and ministry at Central Presbyterian Church we had a couple of new visitors who joined us at the table for a good time of fellowship. Bob, one of our new guests, treated us to after-dinner music on the piano.
During the Bible Study afterward we were going to talk about the parable of the lost son (Luke 15:11-32). It is hard to understand what that parable is trying to teach about the posture of God toward the lost if we are out of touch with our own feelings about those people or objects or qualities we have lost. So I asked the young people before and after dinner to make pictures that told how they felt about something they had lost. This evening the young people put a lot of energy into the artwork they created, so much that it was hard to get them to finish up. Their own feelings about what they were drawing were that strong. Two of the pictures were of pets the children had lost; one was a cat and the other a dog. These children know what it means to long to be reunited with someone special to them. And I think they can imagine how their joy would overflow if they did get reunited.
The parable of the lost son is an open-ended story. It stops in the middle of a conversation between the loving father and the angry older son who never left home and who is deeply resentful of the grand celebration over the return of his good-for-nothing younger brother. In the conversation the older son refuses to join the party, and pours out his bitterness to his father. The father pours out his heart to the older son, reminding how they both had thought his brother was dead, and now he has been returned to them alive.
The story ends with so many questions unanswered. Will the older son recognize the wonderful turn of events and open his heart to his younger brother? Will the older son join the celebration? Which son is more lost?