When Jesus Throws A Party
This week marks the fourth Sunday in Lent–– the global Christian community’s season leading up to Easter. Our Gospel reading this week is from Luke 15:11-32. Many of you may know this passage as the Parable of the Prodigal Son. Here, Jesus tells the parable as the third story in a series on "lost" items.
The first story that Jesus tells refers to a person with a hundred sheep. Upon losing one of the sheep, she leaves her ninety-nine in order to find the one. When she returns home, she calls friends and family together to rejoice over the found sheep. Similarly, the second story involves a woman who loses one of her ten silver coins. She searches high and low for the one, and rejoices upon its discovery. Finally, Jesus, in the company of Pharisees and scribes, tells the story of the lost son. In this story, the younger of two sons asks his father for his inheritance in order to leave home for a distant country. The father obliges and the younger son spends his entire inheritance. Combined with economic scarcity in his new country, he is forced to take a job feeding pigs in the country. Now, hungry and isolated in a foreign land, Jesus says, "And no one gave him anything." The son decides that it's best that he return home to his father, ask for forgiveness, and simply offer to work as a hired hand. Yet, upon his return home, the father's response to his son is characterized by one celebratory act after another. Rejoice! His son was lost but is now found! This discovery is cause for nothing but a party!
It's difficult in today's taut and anxious American climate to find our faith's true north. What does following Jesus really look like in 2016 amongst the bombastic political rhetoric and our Facebook feeds full of a thousand opinions? Prior to these three parables by Jesus, the Gospel of Luke says that the Pharisees are grumbling at Jesus' radical inclusion of tax collectors and sinners. Jesus is eating and laughing and partying with the outsiders.
As we examine our inner lives during the season of Lent, perhaps we need to open ourselves to radically love or be loved. Perhaps we need to remember that Jesus' response to each of us is a celebration. Jesus loved to throw parties. Who are you excluding? Who do you need to throw a party for?
This week, may you remember that you are God's beloved, wrapped in the best robe, and invited into God's wild and wondrous party. Who will you invite?
See you all soon!