Wayward & Dutiful

Lord Jesus Christ, who didst stretch out thine arms of love
on the
hard wood of the cross that everyone might come
within the reach of thy saving embrace: So clothe us in thy
Spirit that we, reaching forth our hands in love, may bring
those who do not know thee to the knowledge and love of
thee; for the honor of thy Name.  Amen. (BCP, p. 58)

The author of this prayer, one of my favorites, captures the essence of the ministry of Jesus – the desire to embrace all with the love of God.

In the story of the gracious Father, typically called the story of the Prodigal Son, the father rushes out to embrace his son who took his part of the inheritance, went abroad, and squandered it. Like many he took his God given gifts and wasted them, only later coming to his senses. As the prodigal returns – he was embraaced and given a fine robe, a family ring, and new sandles, before he was able to complete his rehearsed speech seeking forgiveness. The embrace erased all the past and welcomed him into a new future.

The elder son who followed all the rules and remained dutiful, he, too, was embraced by his father, though he resented his brother an dhis brothers welcome home.

The wayward and the dutiful sons were equally embraced. Though this story of the gracious father gives us no glimpse into the fathers soul, the Christ hanging on the cross informs us all of this struggle to embrace all in love.

?Should we expect it to be any different for us? God calls us not to do the easy, but to do the Holy, to stretch out our arms to embrace all, the wayward and the dutiful.

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