God’s Expansive Love and Grace
By Richard James, Council of Twelve Apostles
So he set off and went to his father. But while he was still far off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion; he ran and put his arms around him and kissed him. Then the son said to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.” But the father said…“let us eat and celebrate; for this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found!” And they began to celebrate. —Luke 15:20–24 NRSV
We were on holiday in France visiting a busy market town. Hundreds of people were milling around, buying produce. The market stalls were bursting with smells and colors, and people were enjoying the experience.
As we walked through the throng, we made sure our children were in physical contact with one of us responsible parents. Our youngest daughter, who was about 5 years old, was holding a hand. Then in a moment we looked around, and we could not see her. Where was she? We looked around the immediate area. She was not there.
We looked around the crowded market. We tried to retrace our steps where we had stopped to look at produce. We still could not see her. Where could she be? Panic started to rise in us, and at the same time we prayed we might find her.
In utter relief we spotted her playing in a park, unaware of what was going on around her—and the commotion she had caused. As we embraced her (and urgently talked to her for wandering away) an incredible sense of love enveloped us. She was lost…but we had found her. We felt joy as we celebrated.
Have you ever lost someone or something? When you found it, did you feel a wonderful sense of relief and joy? God is calling us to search for people lost in life, and then, when we find them, together celebrate with joy. Whom is God calling you to find?
Prayer for Peace
God of the lost and the found, help us always look over our shoulder for those who are left behind. Help us pause and notice who may feel lost. Help us respond by sharing the peace of Christ.
Spiritual Practice: Honoring the Worth of All Persons
Read Psalm 139:13–18. Sit quietly and let the words sink deeply into your mind, heart, and body. What thoughts and feelings do you have about being “fearfully and wonderfully made”?
Sense the intimate knowledge and love God has for you and everyone. Be aware of the sacred worth of each person. Weep with God over the soul-wounding forces and events that rob people of dignity and worth. How does God invite you to notice, protect, heal, and affirm the spiritual identity of all God’s beloved people today? Pray for God’s compassion.
Today, God, I will celebrate the good father as well as the lost son.