The story of the prodigal son, one of the longest in the gospel, is also one of the most important. It’s not just about a boy who goes astray, of course, it’s about the human race gone wrong.
“Give me what’s mine,” the son says boldly to his father, and he takes off for a faraway country, a permissive paradise that promises power and pleasure, in fact, it promises him everything.
But they’re empty promises, and soon the boy who had so much has nothing and ends up in a pigsty feeding pigs, who eat better than he does.
Then, he takes his first step back. He “comes to himself,” our story says; he realizes what he has done. “I have sinned.”
How straightforward his reaction! Not blaming anybody else for the mess he is in: not his father, or the prostitutes he spent so much of his money on, or society that took him in. No, it’s his own fault.
He doesn’t wallow in his sin and what it’s brought him, either. He looks to the place where he belongs, to his father’s house. It wont be an easy road, but he takes it. He starts back home.
His story is our story too.
How easily we leave your side,
for a place far away.
Send light into our darkness,
and open our eyes to our sins.
Unless you give us new hearts and strong spirits,
we cannot make the journey home,
to your welcoming arms and the music and the dancing.
Father of mercies and giver of all gifts,
guide us home
and lead us back to you.