Displaying posts published in

September 2011

He was lost and is found

We left off from Jesus’ parable with the older son refusing to join the joy. How will the father respond?  A slap for this petulant upstart?  Frog-march him into the party?  That’s not his style.  Instead, in verse 31, he boils down the whole issue to a single word: “Son,” Son!  You might even translate […]

The fatted calf

When the prodigal came home, they killed the fatted calf. From the father, it was the most lavish gesture of reconciliation.  He would publicly welcome, celebrate and eat with his lost son. For the younger son, it was the most incredible token of the father’s forgiveness.  The father from whom he had only taken, now […]

Safe and sound

Every story has a turning point?  What’s the turning point of the Prodigal Son? Perhaps we think it’s in the pigsty.  There he is, hungry and helpless, and the prodigal hatches a plan… “17 When he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father’s have bread enough and to spare, and […]

Far country

Who is easier to get into heaven – a good person or a bad person? That was my opening line for a talk given recently.  The occasion was a lunchtime concert held at my church.  We were halfway through a recital of Gilbert and Sullivan’s finest and I was given 5 minutes to speak. I […]

Prodigal Son

The world divides into two camps – sinners and slaves. The sinners love freedom.  The slaves love respect.  The sinners opt out of the system to discover themselves.  The slaves opt in to prove themselves. When sinners are upset they riot or hold protest rock concerts.  When slaves are upset they write stern letters to the Daily […]

Lost sheep

Kevin’s mother might complain to her friend: “I’m afraid since his girlfriend left him, Kevin’s been completely direction-less.  A bit of a lost sheep really.” But it’s not just Kevin.  The Bible puts that label on a much broader constituency.  Often the people of God are called “sheep without a shepherd” (e.g. Numbers 27:17; 1 […]

Cross to bear

A stammer.  An irritating workmate.  An infirm parent.  A complaining parishioner.  An unpleasant duty.  A chronic illness.  We might be tempted to call these things “my cross to bear.”  But we shouldn’t.  Jesus means something very different by the phrase. But it’s not just the world-weary grumblers who get it wrong.  The zealous do-gooders can […]

Highways and hedges

Personality tests split the world into introverts and extroverts.  The diagnostic is usually something about energy levels – do you energize on your own or with others?  If you re-charge by yourself you’re an introvert.  If you come alive around people, you’re an extrovert. I’m not sure it’s helpful to label people so definitively.  Such […]

A man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions

In June it was reported that a 17 year old Chinese youth sold his kidney to buy an iPad2. We recognize the folly of that kind of covetousness instantly.  But what about greed that is closer to home? Recently I read an excellent discussion of the much-used phrase “material blessings” in our church prayers.  We […]

The crumbs under thy Table

It is, perhaps, Thomas Cranmer’s most famous prayer.  Known as The Prayer of Humble Access, it is said prior to receiving the Lord’s Supper: “We do not presume to come to this thy Table, O merciful Lord, trusting in our own righteousness, but in thy manifold and great mercies. We are not worthy so much […]