Art: “The Return of the Prodigal Son” by Rembrandt Van Rijn, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
Available online at: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Rembrandt_Harmensz_van_Rijn_-_Return_of_the_Prodigal_Son_-_Google_Art_Project.jpg
Written by Blaine Thomas, Pastor, Bethany United Methodist Church, Weyers Cave, VA
The servant replied, ‘Your brother has arrived, and your father has slaughtered the fattened calf because he received his son back safe and sound.’ Then the older son was furious and didn’t want to enter in, but his father came out and begged him. He answered his father, ‘Look, I’ve served you all these years, and I never disobeyed your instruction. Yet you’ve never given me as much as a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours returned, after gobbling up your estate on prostitutes, you slaughtered the fattened calf for him.’ Then his father said, ‘Son, you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad because this brother of yours was dead and is alive. He was lost and is found.’”Luke 15:27-32 CEB
As we find ourselves in the season of lent, a journey of remembrance of who we are and to whom we belong…this image strikes me to my core. The son who has screwed up in every possible way, returns with ratty and torn clothes, fallen on his knees and embracing his father. This is the climax of the Lenten story.
Somedays I feel like I am the son who left his father and lived according to his own way. Somedays I feel like I am the older son, the one who stayed and remained faithful to his father. And other days, as a pastor; I feel like I am the father…just excited for his child or member of the flock to return to a place of grace and welcoming. We have strayed, and we have given into worldly impulses, and yet God is waiting for us to come – broken and as we are – and embrace the love and hope that God offers us. The father does not sit and scold his son for leaving and being loose with his inheritance. NO. The father opens his arms and embraces his lost and broken son.
Whether you feel like the younger son, older son, or the father during this Lenten season, I pray that you cling to the truth that God is still waiting with arms wide open, for us to come as we are. Let us as we walk farther along the journey to the cross, to be people who are willing to embrace the worn and tattered people, just as the Father welcomed his worn and tattered son. Amen.
Find previous “Picturing God” entries here:
Monday, March 27: In Which Basil the Great Annoys an American
Art: “In Which Basil the Great Annoys an American” by Charlie Baber, used with artist’s permission Available online at:…
Friday, March 24: The Ladder and the Cross
Art: “Nailing of Christ to the Cross (Cell 36)” by Fra Angelico (born Guido di Pietro), Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons Available online at:…
Wednesday, March 22: The True Meaning of the Scapegoat
Art: “Sending Out the Scapegoat” by William James Webb, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons Available online at: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Webb_Sending_Out_the_Scapegoat.jpg Written…
Monday, March 20: Abraham’s Sacrifice
Art: “Abraham’s Sacrifice” by Rembrandt Van Rijn, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons Available online at:…
Friday, March 17: The Trinity
Art: “The Trinity,” by Andrei Rublev, Public domain, via Wikimedia CommonsCollection, Whitworth University Library, Spokane Available online at:…