Short Thoughts by Geoff
Last week we looked at the parable entitled ‘The Prodigal Son’ but you
could entitle it, continuing in the note of ‘F’ as ‘The Faithful Father’. It is
one of the most appealing parables in the gospels and not just because
it’s about the grace of the father and the redemption of the wayward son
but because it is so true to life – sibling rivalry, careless ingratitude, jealous
feelings by the elder brother at what seems to be grossly unfair to him,
repentance and sorrow, loving parentage and a welcome back – and not
as a hireling but as a son.
As I look at this picture I see a father who has been looking out for his child’s return ever since he left home and which loving parent has not experienced that? I remember one Sunday night welcoming folk to chapel when a lady came in later than she usually did. She had been waiting for a telephone call from her daughter and son-in-law to say they had landed at Newcastle airport after their holiday in Cyprus. “I know,” she said, “they are well over 40 now but you can’t help worrying about them can you?”
Last year we spent a weekend in Glasgow looking after our grandchildren, two girls and a boy, while both their parents were taking part in a duathlon (run and bike ride) in Wales. We were told the children could play out with their friends in the street and they had been told to let us know whose house they were in. Also they might want to go to a local café for lunch on Saturday with their friends and that would be alright. Although they were aged 14, 12 and 9 we hoped they would just stay in the street but they asked if they could go to the café! We said yes but they had to be back for 1 o’clock and let us know when they had returned before they went out to play again. The café was a good quarter of a mile away and they set off and disappeared over the hill. Margaret said it was the longest hour of her life while they were away! Did we keep looking out for them? Of course we did – frequently!
Well, just after 1 o’clock the grandchildren duly returned and we were much relieved as you can guess. We didn’t have a fatted calf to kill to celebrate their homecoming but we didn’t need to as they had all had their lunch. Rory, the 9 year old, told me he’d had a square sausage roll. I was puzzled as to what a square sausage roll would look like until I remembered later on that day that there was a language difference and what we would call a bread bun in England is called a roll in Scotland. What he had eaten was a square (Lorne) sausage in a bun and had obviously enjoyed it, for, as he told me, he does like square sausage.
It is a reminder that we don’t all speak the same language and need to take time to understand others. Sadly the elder brother in the parable didn’t try and did not go into the feast but if he had he would have been given much more than a square sausage by the father who loved him just as much as his younger son and the elder might have rejoiced in his father’s word to him “My son, you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead, but now he is alive; he was lost, but now he is found.”
I’m sure our Heavenly Father says much the same to his faithful children.
And if you have learnt nothing else at least you’ll now know what a square sausage roll is if you are ever offered one in Scotland!