Today is the sixth in a series on the 7 Last Words of Christ.
Son, behold your mother. Mother, behold your son.
Jesus made sure that those closest to him were taken care of after he died. He asked his disciple John to treat his mother Mary like his own mother. And he asked Mary to take care of his disciple John as if he were her own son. These statements remind us that we are to treat one another as if they are our own family even if they are not. We are to open our homes to each other and freely give one another food, clothing and whatever else is needed. When we treat each other like family, we pray for one another and keep them in our thoughts.
The parables of those things that are lost are very telling to us as followers of Christ. The woman with the lost coin is like our God who looks everywhere for us who are lost and living apart from him. He looks in every nook and cranny. He looks in, under and around everything for us. He uses a broom to sweep every corner for us.
When he finds us, he calls his friends and family (the
angels, the saints, the trinity) to celebrate that the lost has been found. We,
his coins, are special to him and treasures to him. What a joy it is to be
celebrated and treasured in this way.
The second parable in the series about lost things is a
parable about caring. The parable talks about one sheep among 100 who is lost.
The shepherd leaves the 99 to find the one lost sheep. This shows how much the
shepherd cares for each and every sheep. He will spend precious time away from
the majority to rescue the minority. Once he finds the lost sheep, he will
carry that lost sheep on his shoulders so that the sheep will not be injured on
the way home and the sheep will return in victory for having been found.
The parable of the lost son captures what it means in human
terms to be lost and then found by God. The young son asks his father for his
inheritance, which the father gives to him. This shows what a generous father
the son has and what a generous God we have. The son spends the money on wild,
reckless and wasteful living. This reflects how free we are with God’s gifts
and how ungrateful we are in our spending of those gifts. When the son realizes
how wasteful he has been, he seeks to return to his father’s house. When we
realize how reckless we have been with God’ gifts and how sinful we have been,
we seek to return to our God for forgiveness. When the son returns to his
father, his father welcomes him with open arms and throws a party for him. When
we return to God, he forgives us our sins freely and celebrates our return with
all those gathered in his home in heaven. He makes sure that when the time
comes, we will be his honored guests at the feast of victory in heaven.
On a garden tour I attended this summer, I learned about a plant called the moonflower. Believe it or not, this is a flower that only blooms at night under the light of the moon. Here’s how it is described on the Better Homes and Gardens website:
Moonflower is one of the most romantic plants you can grow in the garden. It’s a statuesque, ideal evening-garden plant bearing large trumpet-shape flowers that unfurl in the evening (or on overcast days) and stay open until the sun rises. Some are sweetly fragrant when open.
For some reason, that flower got me to thinking about how some of our gravest and most fearful moments hit us at night. How many times have we woken up with a start in the night in a panic, worried about an approaching deadline or an unresolved issue of some kind?
We sang the song “O Come to the Altar” by Elevation Worship a few Sundays ago in church, and I was struck by this refrain:
The Father’s arms are open wide.
As those words were woven into the lyrics and repeated throughout, the powerful meaning of that image filled me with comfort and confidence. No matter where I have been, what I have done, when I return to him in repentance, God’s arms are always open wide to receive me.
There is a moment in the youtube version of the song link below where the audience sings these words in unison, and I can feel the collective relief and unburdening in the people’s voices. Take a listen, if you have a moment here:
I am reminded of the scene in the story of the Prodigal Son when the father sees his wayward son from a distance and runs with arms open wide to embrace him. At the very heart of our relationship with God is a longing and desire to be wrapped in his embrace and surrounded by the peace, security and strength only he can provide.
Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus, whom the apostles called Barnabas (which means “son of encouragement”), sold a field he owned and brought the money and put it at the apostles’ feet. —Acts 4:36-37
Throughout the Book of Acts, we read about a disciple of Christ named Barnabas, which means “son of encouragement.” His name indicates the kind of impact he had on those in the early church and those he witnessed to on his many missionary trips with the apostle Paul.
Here are some examples of what Barnabas said and did in his travels:
News of this reached the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. —Acts 11:22
Then Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul and when he found him, he brought him to Antioch. So for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people. The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch. —Acts 11:25-26
This they did, sending their gift to the elders by Barnabas and Saul. —Acts 11:30Continue reading →