March 21st Lenten Devotional

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Mary Barnes Iverson

Luke 15:20b-24

A teenager was recently invited to a party.  She confessed to a parent, “I know that there will be drinking going on.  The boy who invited me was already drunk.”  It prompted the parent to repeat a lecture they had given before, to both the teen and her older brother.  “If you find yourself in a situation where you or your driver have been drinking, call me for a ride.  There will be no scolding and no punishment.  All you will get from me is a smile, a word of thanks and a safe and sober ride home for all who need it.”

Certainly the son who had wandered far from home was expecting a lecture from his father.  He was met, not with a reprimand and not with scolding, but with hugs, kisses and a promised party.

The teenager, who decided not to go to the party after all, asked, “Won’t you be disappoint-ted if I have been drinking?”  Of course they will be disappointed.  But to get a call from your child rather than the hospital or the funeral home doesn’t compare!

Certainly the father’s heart had been broken.  Yet he had been hoping for nothing more than the return of his son.  And seeing his son, far off in the distance, hiked up his robe and took off running, to welcome the boy home.  He threw his arms around the boy, kissed him and called for a celebration party.

This, Jesus tells us, this is what God is like.  Yes, God may be broken-hearted by our behavior, but God is not cold or callous.  God runs to us and sweeps us up and celebrates our return.

Rev. Mary Iverson is the pastor of an ELCA Lutheran Church in the farm country of south central Minnesota. 

©2017 by individual authors and Facebook Narrative Lectionary Group.  This work is published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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