A couple years ago I preached a sermon for my kids’ school chapel. I preached the parable of the Prodigal Son. It was a sermon in which I tried to get the hearers to marvel at God’s grace towards them.
At the end of the sermon, the principal came up to wrap things up and his words were surprise that this kind of sermon would be preached to high schoolers at a Christian school. I was a little embarrassed and thought, “Maybe I preached the wrong sermon.”
This Christmas, I am in awe of Emmanuel. In awe of a God who would come among us in such a vulnerable way. Thinking about it literally brings me to tears.
I have known of the incarnation all of my life. I have been a committed follower of Jesus for decades. I have taught it, preached it, prayed it, and lived it. But I can still be brought to tears when I ponder Emmanuel.
What would make us too mature to hear a message about God’s love for us and His desire that we come to Him? What would make us think a Gospel message is the wrong message?
I wonder if it is because the Gospel is for the unbelievers?
I wonder if it is because the Gospel is simply for conversion? Not just for unbelievers to hear, but specifically for the purpose of conversion. Like a sales pitch where you put the screws to someone to shell out the cash.
I wonder if it is because it makes us uncomfortable with our sin? When we preach a message of grace to a group of committed Christian people, it is like we are acknowledging we are still sinners. That we are still sinners is the very public secret the church believes is private.
To think we, who are followers of Jesus, are still, at heart, prodigals is not a popular thing to say. At least if such a sermon were preached at a church, one could imagine it is preached for the visitor in the second row. Preach it in a room full of people who have all publicly given their allegiance to God and suddenly everyone wonders if the sermon is preached with them in mind.
I am ashamed to admit I spend much too much time in the far country with booze, whores, and slopping pigs. I am ashamed that, having been adopted by God, I have boldly asked for my inheritance now. I read the Prodigal and my heart leaps. There may even be hope for me.
It is me, a son, who has left the presence of God. It is me, a son, who is hoping against all hope God is still waiting for me to return. It is me, a son, who is finally realizing (again) I would rather be a servant in the household of my Father than out here slopping pigs.
I have preached that sermon several times (it is a favorite of my family and they request it when there is opportunity) and at the end, I talk about the banquet the Father is throwing for the prodigal who comes home.
I always choke up at that point, because I realize there is a banner over the head table, and it says, “Welcome Home,” and, it is for me.
It is for me.
Grace is for me.
I hope I continue to hear stories of God’s grace for 1000 years. I need to hear them.