“We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a filthy cloth.” Isaiah 64:6
“The son said to him, ’Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no more worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his slaves, ‘Quickly bring out a robe – the best one – and put it on him.’” Luke 15:21-22
My sister and I ran away from home, alone, just the two of us. When we were 8 or 9 maybe, our parents bought a bicycle. She “bucked” me on the front bar. We rode “far away” from our farm to a resort on a nearby lake. We sat on the end of a dock, waited, got hungry, and went home for supper. No robes, no fatted calf – just forgiveness and a seat at the table.
Estrangement today is sadly common. We recently heard that our church quilters give many quilts to our local high school for students who are not welcome in their homes for various reasons; or perhaps choose not to live there, for various reasons. What might be too much to forgive, the last straw? Or, too unworthy to dare ask? Constant arguing and disrespect for rules? Substance abuse? Abuse?
I’m not saying or judging, just trying to imagine situations, how difficult it is to forgive, our own need to forgive and be forgiven. Remember the story about the proud Pharisee and the humble, unloved Publican praying in the temple? “God, be merciful to me, a sinner.” Jesus affirmed his plea. Remember the thief hanging on a cross next to Jesus? “Remember me, when you come into your kingdom.” And Jesus affirmed his plea.
If life were the story Jesus told in Luke 15, what role would you play? The sorry son who had “the nerve” to ask for pardon for his bad behavior? The loving father who welcomed his wayward son back home? Or the jealous, judgmental brother who finds the audacity of his sibling unforgiveable?
Loving God, Grant us the grace to be merciful and non-judgmental; to forgive those who sin against us as you forgive us our sins; to love unconditionally. Amen