By Guest Blogger Sean Bell
What if we knew the story that was only beginning at the end of the Prodigal son parable?
So what did the older brother do?
I’m guessing as a rule follower he went back in the house like his Dad said. He still probably wasn’t happy but, as always, he did what was expected of him, and then went to bed as soon as it was polite… or perhaps he went off and gathered his friends to discuss the unfairness of the situation (if the Prodigal had returned… and was accepted back… the Older son may have just lost 1/2 of his inheritance…)
I wonder what that family looked like 6 months down the road?
What were the evening meals like? Were they really tense? Could the younger brother tell stories of his trip and squandering and wild living? Or was it all covered up and never talked about? Did the pain of his sin still rule the the family meals… or was he truly forgiven? Had laughter returned? Was there intimacy felt as a family? Was there healing?
Imagine that it is now 2000 year later. The loving Father is still calling people in for the family meal. Generations of children now gather around the family meal that the Father is still offering.
It’s a daily occurrence now that the Father sits weeping at the door as someone takes there “fair share” and heads off into the world to find there own way. Some people can’t learn from a story alone that wondering off to the life of wild living is not ultimately going to make them feel whole… or even good.
It is also a daily occurrence that that Father shouts our with Joy and goes charging from the house, robe and sandals flapping about in an undignified way. Rejoice! Another Prodigal Son or Daughter has returned. Everyone, stop what you are doing… kill a cow! Light the fires! We must celebrate!
Again and again, the Father says kill the calf, let us celebrate. And… who comes in to the table when the father calls?
This is a vitally important question because this is what it is to be the children of God. God is setting a table for all… all are called. But do some choose to eat on their own? Do some of the non-prodigals decide to eat in the side room where we have proper manners and don’t have to watch the Father gushing over another prodigal child returned?
What does it do to the whole family when we look at the place where beloved brothers and sisters used to sit, and see that they have chosen a side room to eat in?
Imagine this scenario… the entire Family is called to the meal… and a whole group of the Family is missing. The Father goes about the house looking, and finds the missing group in a side room.
“Why have you not come?” asks the father.
“We’re waiting till they have eaten, and then we will eat.”
“But I called everyone… there is food for all”
“Yes.. and we will come, but we won’t eat with them…”
What if we all kept coming to the same table?
What if we could have our fights, and still come to the table?
Great thoughts. Maybe we should get into a big drag-out, pumped up, down-n-dirty, nothing held back, food fight. At least then the Father would be smiling that we would be joining together in something.