Thursday – CelebrationLuke 15:21-24 The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate. When the prodigal son returns home, an ordinary dinner or another traditional gathering is not enough; it is time to celebrate. “God rejoices. Not because the problems of the world have been resolved, or because human pain and suffering is ended, and not even because thousands of people have been converted and now praise him for his goodness. No, God rejoices because one of his children that was lost, has been found. That to which he invites me, is for me to enter into this joy. It is God’s joy, not joy that the world can offer. It is joy that a child is returning home in the midst of horror, destruction and despair… God rejoices when one repentant sinner returns. Statistically it’s not very interesting, but God has never been interested in numbers. In God’s eyes, it only takes one hidden act of repentance, one small gesture of selfless love, one moment of real forgiveness to have God descend from his throne and run towards the returning son; to have the heavens be filled with sounds of God’s joy.” – Henri Nouwen We can see in the older son how distorted his concept of joy is. The whole village hears music and hurries to the celebration; only the brother stays outside and is unnaturally suspicious. By not entering right away into the home of his father, who organized the celebration, he is publicly showing his resistance towards his father, which in this culture is very offensive. It is an action comparable to the attitude of the younger son at the beginning of the parable. The situation repeats itself; a son is again lost. The father should have ignored him or punished him. However, he again goes out towards his son, he humiliates himself in front of everyone and in an unexpected gesture of love, he tries to convince his son to enter into the house. The older son does not even show basic respect and does not address him as Father. On the contrary, he accuses his father that he is only his slave and not his son. He has just publicly disgraced his father and he dares to say that he “never disobeyed any of his commands.” He does not feel like he is a part of the family. Emotionally he belongs to different community. His joy comes from having good food with his friends and not from the return of his brother, who was dead and now is alive. The older son wants only a piece of meat, so that he can indulge in a different type of joy. As a church, where does our joy come from? Prayer Points:
- Praise God and express to him your thankfulness. Tell God at least one specific thing that you are thankful for today, or what God delighted you with last year.
- Invite to the front of your church those who have believed or have joined your fellowship this past year. Pray for them.
- Prayerfully search for what is the greatest joy in your church.
- In quiet devotion, think about the passage in John 16:22 “So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.” Is it true about you? Is there a joy deep in your heart that no one can take from you? Is your grief only on the surface or is it the opposite?
- Go to someone in your fellowship and encourage them with what you enjoy about them, what inspires you, what you respect about them, and how they made you happy.