Pause

With the drawing of this Love and the voice of this Calling
We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.

T. S. Eliot, “Little Gidding” (1942)

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Listen

All the tax collectors and sinners were gathering around Jesus to listen to him. The Pharisees and legal experts were grumbling, saying, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”

Jesus told them this parable:

“A certain man had two sons. The younger son said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the inheritance.’ Then the father divided his estate between them. Soon afterward, the younger son gathered everything together and took a trip to a land far away. There, he wasted his wealth through extravagant living.”

Luke 15:1-3, 11b-13

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Think

The story begins with a fracture in the community. On one hand, we meet the “sinners.” On the other hand, we have the religious leaders. The bad and the good. The unclean and the clean. The lost and the found.

Jesus, perhaps picking up on the contested contrast within the conversation, decided to double down on the dividing line: “There were two sons, the one who left and the one who stayed. . .”

Like night and day, up and down, left and right. And like most humans, we take the bait, choosing the corner we’re going to back, the side we’ll support, the son on whom we’ll place our bets. Team Older Son!

Of course, it doesn’t take long before our comfort with such division is exposed by a storyteller who prefers healings to fractures. As it turns out, it may just be the ones we consider found who are lost, and those we consider lost who end up found. And a Jesus who still seeks both.

Dave McNeely

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Pray

God, forgive us with our comfort in dividing the world into fractured halves and choosing sides. Heal the fractures within my own heart as I become uncomfortable with the divisions that trouble your heart. Amen.

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Go

As you go, may your heart be forever anchored in the welcoming heart of God.

As you go, may you experience the joy of love rushing out to meet you on your path.

As you go, may the future paved by forgiveness lead you in the path of everlasting joy.

Dave McNeely

Dave McNeely currently serves as the Faith & Justice Scholars Coordinator and Adjunct Professor of Religion at Carson-Newman University in Jefferson City, TN, where he is a member of First Baptist Church. He is married to Mandy and has two children, Christopher and Noah.

I Surrender All

Mark Hayes

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