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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“Now his older son was in the field. Coming in from the field, he approached the house and heard music and dancing. He called one of the servants and asked what was going on. The servant replied, ‘Your brother has arrived, and your father has slaughtered the fattened calf because he received his son back safe and sound.’ Then the older son was furious and didn’t want to enter in, but his father came out and begged him.”

Luke 15:25-28

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It’s tempting to want to protect the gifts of God, as though there may be a limited supply of grace. So we sequester it far from the sinners and contain it far from the contaminated.

And time and again, the grace of God busts through all our constraints.

The parable of the lost son immediately follows two other parables about lost things and the lengths God is willing to go to find them. In these three parables, Jesus says the Gospel is like this: If something is missing, God won’t stop until that something is found.

To put it another way, God is not content with a party with an empty seat. Even while there are some who refuse to come in where the music is loud, God’s dancing feet keep wandering past the fence posts out into the fields to meet them there.

Turns out, God’s grace is a portable party that doesn’t like to be constrained to the boundaries we create.

Dave McNeely

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God, forgive me for putting limits on your grace. Free me to move past my own boundaries to bring your music to those who are too distant to make out the melody, and grant me the courage to know your grace will meet me there. Amen.

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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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