Monday, February 21, 2011

The Prodigal Son

Here is a meditation I wrote for my church Lenten Devotional.

Henri Nouwen wrote a beautiful book, The Return of the Prodigal Son:  A Story of Homecoming.  It is a magnificent meditation on the story of the Prodigal Son told through the beauty of Rembrandt's painting of the same name.  In the painting, the humbled son has returned and kneels before his father, vulnerable, seeking forgiveness, reconciliation, and restoration of relationship.  As you view the painting, your eye is drawn to the hands of the father, as they hold his beloved son in a tender embrace.
    This loving and gentle embrace of his son is like God's embrace of us.  The warmth of the father's hands assure the son that he is loved, forgiven, and fully restored in body, mind, spirit, and right relationship.  Rather than using his hands to reject, to strike, or withhold love, the father uses his embrace to emulate the Kingdom of Heaven here on earth.  Through the touch of Christ, we are loved, even though we may not feel we deserve it.  We are healed, even though we may not believe it to be possible.  We are transformed into the men and women God wishes us to be, even though we lack confidence in ourselves to carry out God's work.
    We prayerfully consider Christ's suffering and death during Lent.  So too, we prayerfully consider our own suffering and that of others.  This year, I will consider the father who lovingly lays hands on his humiliated, repentant son.  I pray for the grace to bear the love of Christ in all I encounter, and to use my hands to carry out his work here on earth, in healing and loving embrace.  I too, wish to play a part in Kingdom of Heaven here on earth.

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