(Lead me Lord,) by the hope of finding my true home.
The fifteenth chapter of the Gospel according to Luke is all about lost things; a lost sheep, a lost coin, and lastly about lost sons. We often think about the sons being lost, and both of them are lost in their own ways . . . but you can also understand the story as a story in which the two sons have lost something precious. They have lost their sense of “home.”
Luke 15:11[NRSV] Then Jesus said, “There was a man who had two sons. 12 The younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of the property that will belong to me.’ So he divided his property between them. 13 A few days later the younger son gathered all he had and traveled to a distant country, and there he squandered his property in dissolute living. 14 When he had spent everything, a severe famine took place throughout that country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed the pigs. 16 He would gladly have filled himself with the pods that the pigs were eating; and no one gave him anything. 17 But when he came to himself he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired hands have bread enough and to spare, but here I am dying of hunger! 18 I will get up and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; treat me like one of your hired hands.” ’ 20 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. 21 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.’ 22 But the father said to his slaves, ‘Quickly, bring out a robe—the best one—and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 And get the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; 24 for this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found!’ And they began to celebrate.
Luke 15:25 “Now his elder son was in the field; and when he came and approached the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 He called one of the slaves and asked what was going on. 27 He replied, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fatted calf, because he has got him back safe and sound.’ 28 Then he became angry and refused to go in. His father came out and began to plead with him. 29 But he answered his father, ‘Listen! For all these years I have been working like a slave for you, and I have never disobeyed your command; yet you have never given me even a young goat so that I might celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours came back, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fatted calf for him!’ 31 Then the father said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. 32 But we had to celebrate and rejoice, because this brother of yours was dead and has come to life; he was lost and has been found.’”
It is telling that when the younger boy, who has left home looking for a more interesting or more fulfilling life in a distant country, “came to himself” he immediately gets up to return to his father’s house. It has taken a lot of foolishness and the consequent hardships that go along with foolishness, but the boy finally knows where he belongs. Meanwhile, the older brother has traded in his sense of belonging for a sullen obedience which makes his father’s house a prison — “all these years I have been working like a slave for you,” he spits out. He too has lost home — and without even leaving it — by choosing to sulk in self-pitying resentments.
We are all of us a little bit of both of these boys — the foolhardy and the resentful too. This petition of our Pilgrim’s prayer is that our Lord will help us to find our true home. Perhaps there is a geographic aspect to this searching, but as pilgrims we know that we are also on the journey of an inner spiritual odyssey which hopes to finally lead us to our home with God — a home which isn’t located by GPS navigation so much as it is by a careful pattern of listening for the guidance of the Holy Spirit and a willingness to follow. Jesus points us to the path upon which we may walk and be truly at home, “Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.” [John 14:23 NRSV]
Daily Collect: Lord, you promise to make your home in us if we keep your word. Help us when our courage flags and our zeal fades because we find your words to be so hard to accept: to love our enemies; to forgive seventy times seven times; to give to everyone who begs from us; to turn the other cheek . . . your word points us to a very different way of being in the world. Though your word challenges us we do hope that we will find our true home with you, so help us who are lost to find our way back home. In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.