Posted by Anne Witton on Tuesday, April 14, 2015 Under: Reflections
One of my friends and mission partners, Susanna (or Constable as I call her, rather ridiculously!), has recently written a very thought-provoking reflection on the prodigal son and has kindly allowed me to repost it here. She writes from the point of view of the church and the LGBTQ community as that is her area of ministry, but I think it's applicable to anyone who has felt less than welcome in the church, for whatever reason. It captures the spirit of how we're trying to connect with students at Student Life in Newcastle, which you can read more about in my Evangelism Castles post.
Here are Susanna's thoughts:
A couple of days ago, I was out on my bike (training for my sponsored ride) praying about my summer internship with The Marin Foundation. The Prodigal Son came to mind, a story Jesus tells after he is accused of associating with so called "notorious sinners."
In Luke's gospel, the youngest of two sons asks his father for his inheritance early. He then goes off to a distant land and wastes the money he was given. Broke and trying to survive a famine, the youngest son finds a job feeding pigs. He's so hungry and desperate that he would willing eat the pig swill if only someone would let him. He finally realises that at home, even the hired hands have it better than this, so he heads off to beg his father's forgiveness and ask if he can work for him as a servant.
Meanwhile, the father has been longing for the return of his child. Seeing the prodigal son far off in the distance, he runs out to meet him. Overwhelmed with love, the father wants to embrace his son, forgive all and throw him a massive welcome home party, but this is where my version differs from the parable.
There is now an impassible chasm between the son and the father. A bridge has been burnt and he cannot return. Unfortunately this is true for so many people who long to find their way to Father God, but find obstacles in the way. The lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered and queer community in particular have fled the church, because of it's views on sexuality, and settled down far away. As I cycled and prayed the other day, I wondered how many LGBTQ people wanted to come home to God the Father, but have found their path blocked. Too many I am sure. How very sad.
It is possible the prodigal burnt his bridges as he was leaving, but there is also another suspect: the older brother. The gospel story tells of his jealous anger. He had been working hard for his father all these years and yet this reprobate was getting all the attention. Perhaps he set fire to the bridge in an attempt to administer the justice he felt was deserved. Like the older brother, Christians are blessed to live with the Father. Yet all too often we allow schism and disagreement to hinder those we are called to love, doing nothing to rebuild the bridge. Surely that has to change?
Like the father in this tale, God is waiting for prodigals to come home, paying no regard to their gender, race or sexuality. He sets no conditions and forgives any and all mistakes; he simply wants to love and embrace everyone. The welcome home party is prepared, so the Father is not interested in why or how the bridge was burnt. He is however, asking his children to fix it so we can be reunited.
Susanna is about to embark on an internship with The Marin Foundation, a charity in the USA that seeks to build bridges between LGBTQ folk and Christians. If you're interested in finding out more about her ministry and how you can support her, do check out her blog. And please be praying for her as she takes this big step of faith.
In : Reflections
Tags: "prodigal son" lgbtq mission church