My Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
This Sunday, we get to share the story of the Prodigal Son. You know the tale: the son demands his inheritance, goes away and wastes it on all sorts of vices, ends up eating pig slop, and, finally, comes home to a surprising and powerful welcome from his father.
It’s a well-known and favorite parable for many reasons. On one hand, it’s a great story. The cast of characters are relatable; the foolish and risk-taking son (we all have had our misguided moments), the upset brother (we know jealousy), and, the compassionate father (a figure we all want in our lives). It is hard not to be drawn to the tale of redemption and grace.
On the other hand, it speaks a deep and soothing truth to us. There are very few who don’t like to think of God analogously as the loving and accepting figure of the father. We like, we need, a God who loves us with that kind of reckless abandon. The kind of love that casts aside all wrongdoings and mistakes to provide a grace-filled hospitality. It’s the kind of acceptance we all crave and, rightfully, seek.
And, God provides it. Again and again, when we come looking for grace or help or peace, God is that place of unending hospitality. We can rest in that fact.
And, this Sunday, in addition to hearing about it, we get to see it and practice it as well. This Sunday, we celebrate the baptism of Gemma Vogelsang. Baptism is one of those places of absolute divine hospitality. God rolls out the welcome mat for us in the waters of baptism. We find our place in God’s house in baptism, no matter how many times we wander away.
And, we get to practice hospitality as well. Just as we have been given grace upon grace, so we extend that to others as well. I have heard many times how warm and receptive all of you are… continue in that! This Sunday, we will not only welcome guests and visitors, we will welcome our Bishop, Deborah Hutterer, as well. I am proud to welcome her into this church.
Above all, remember, that no matter where you wander or what you do, there is a God with radical grace and welcome waiting for you. You can bet your heavenly inheritance on that.