Why spread the Good news?

This devotional is written by Sally Watson, is the Director of Operations at St Mary’s.

Luke 15:1-2, 11-32

15 the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus. 2 But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, "This man welcomes sinners and eats with them."

11 Jesus continued: "There was a man who had two sons. 12 The younger one said to his father, 'Father, give me my share of the estate.' So he divided his property between them.
13 "Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. 14 After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. 16 He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.
17 "When he came to his senses, he said, 'How many of my father's hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18 I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.' 20 So he got up and went to his father.
"But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.
21 "The son said to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.'
22 "But the father said to his servants, 'Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. 24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.' So they began to celebrate.
25 "Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. 27 'Your brother has come,' he replied, 'and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.'
28 "The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. 29 But he answered his father, 'Look! All these years I've been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!'
31 "'My son,' the father said, 'you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. 32 But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found."'


Reading this parable again, I appreciate the simple way in which it conveys God's all-embracing love for us, whether we are at the end of ourselves or think we are doing well. There is something gloriously liberating in being reminded that God finds us loveable at our best and at our worst and at all the everyday normal in between. That we can't earn his love or lose it and that he is full of mercy towards us.
The lost son is lavished with love by his father, who is on the lookout for his return. He is not just accepted back but he is celebrated with a love that overflows and is not measured out according to what he has done. The older son is loved like this too but has perhaps taken it for granted and not treasured or enjoyed it.  I imagine most of us can feel what it is like to be in both brothers' shoes.

The Life Dinner is coming up very soon. I marvel at people’s braveness in asking their friends, colleagues etc and relish how wonderful it is when people come to the Dinner and go on to do the Life Course and then when some come to faith. This is always a joy and privilege to be part of. It is God who woos people and draws them to himself and gives us the boldness to talk our friends about him. Let’s ask him to show us who the spirit is already working in, knowing that we can have confidence in his all-embracing love. Often new people come into the church and say it feels like home.  Let’s pray for the spirit to be at work and prompt us with who to invite to the Life Dinner so that for at least some people, it might be a time of coming home just like the lost son.

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