Read Luke 15:20b-24
20b And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him. 21 His son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son.’
22 “But his father said to the servants, ‘Quick! Bring the finest robe in the house and put it on him. Get a ring for his finger and sandals for his feet. 23 And kill the calf we have been fattening. We must celebrate with a feast, 24 for this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found.’ So the party began. (NLT)
A story was told of an incident in Spain some years ago. A fretting father longed to see his estranged son again. So he put a notice in the city newspaper: “Paco, please come home. All is forgiven. I love you. Meet me at the newspaper office on Sunday.” Now ‘Paco’ is a very common name in Spain. And that Sunday there were numerous ‘Pacos’ milling around outside the newspaper office. All were wanting to receive the offered love and forgiveness.
Christians believe in a God who wants those estranged from him to come home. We believe in a God who allows people the freedom to go away from him and suffers the pain of it. We believe in a God who is not some stern CEO sitting behind a desk indifferent to our human predicament. Rather, a God who shrugs off all thoughts of dignity and rushes to meet those who limp forlornly back home to him.
When we come back to God we do not receive a stern lecture, a coldly formal greeting, certainly not a slammed door. Our God throws a repentance party for us. Those who have tasted their fill of the far country are welcomed home.
There can be a homecoming for each of us because for each of us there is a Father waiting to welcome us home.