Last week we celebrated ‘Trinity Sunday’ in the church ; a celebration of God relating to us in three different ways; God the father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.
Today is fathers day so I thought it would be nice to dwell on one aspect of God; God the father.
Of course, when talk about fathers how we feel about it largely will depend on the experiences we have. I know there are some excellent fathers here, but we may not have experienced good fathers ourselves.
I was one of those, my mum and dad divorced when I was 6 years old and I lost contact completly with my father and did not have a father figure to replace him with.
When I became a father I did not have any notion of what a father was or did - my mother had fulfilled both roles!
So when the bible talks about God the father, it can really skew our vision of who God is.
The old and new testaments were written within a patrachial society , where the father would be the head of the household.
Moreover, the view of God in the Old Testament was one of a scary, distant figure who punished and administered justice with harshness. Anything went wrong. 0000’s
Jesus came to show us just what kind of father God was and is to us today. He put an end to the feeling that God was a scary distant monster (so if you have that view it is out of date!).
To try and convey this he told a story about a father who has two sons and it is one of the most famous stories that Jesus told.
The father has divided his land into two parts equally between his sons who would inherit them upon his death. The younger son asked hum if he could cash in his half and sell it, taking the money.
This by the way, was absolutely shameful in this culture that we skip by today. People in others cultures would stop at this point and find the story unbrliable. That the son could sell his inhertance early? In their view he should have been thrown out or worse. Of course these days our children routinly leave home to pursue their future in cities or even obroad, but in Jesus culutre this was shameful. This younger son was abandoning his duty, his father in his old age.
So, Jesus continues with his audience mouths open as the father lets his son do this shameful acts seemingly without stopping him. The son goes and spends all the money. squandered it all. Worse of all, after he had done this a famine takes place throughout the country and he got desperate.
He reaches rock bottom that son. He gets a job feeding pigs and so hungry he eats the food himself. For a Jew to have anything to do with pigs is bad enough but this young man is not only feeding them, he is hungry enough to share their food. Rock bottom. disgusting. Shameful.
So he decides to go back to his father and confess to him that he is no longer worthy to be his son and offer himself as a hired hand.
What would the father do? Well, we know what he was expected to do.
But he doesn't.
The father Runs.
He does not slowly and dignified walk.
Does not hold back for a lecture with a twinkle in his eye.
He does not watch his son walk down the road.
And he welcomes his son with open arms.
He has an enormous party to celebrate! He thought his son was dead but here he is alive!
We may not have an idea of who or what a father may be.
We may feel sometimes that we are unworthy of God.
That we have messed stuff up and reached rock bottom.
Others deserve that love more like the elder son in the story.
But the most contreversal thing about Gods love is that he loves us the same, no matter what we do.
But the best thing about this story Jesus told is that it is applicable to us right here and now.
We are told that when we turn to God the father and ask his forgiveness.
That he is not angry
That he will not judge us
That he will not hold a grudge
He will embrace us as our father and take us home, and have an amazing party !
If you take nothing else away today, know the lavish love that God the father has for every one of you.