Saturday, March 07, 2015

The Remnant of His Inheritance

Who is there like you, the God who removes guilt and pardons sin for the remnant of his inheritance; Who does not persist in anger forever, but delights rather in clemency, And will again have compassion on us, treading underfoot our guilt?  You will cast into the depths of the sea all our sins.  Micah 7:18-19

“He said to him, ‘My son, you are here with me always; everything I have is yours.  But now we must celebrate and rejoice, because your brother was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.’”  Luke 15:31-32

"Return of the Prodigal Son,"
St. Petersburg, The Hermitage
“As I look at my own aging hands, I know that they have been given to me to stretch out to all who suffer, to rest upon the shoulders of all who come, and to offer the blessing that emerges from the immensity of God’s love.” (Henri Nouwen, “The Return of the Prodigal Son,” Epilogue.)

The brothers theme jumps out with the recent death of my own brother who has “come to life again” in the Spirit on the Cloud of Witness.  Some years ago, I sent him a copy of Henri J. M. Nouwen’s great little tome, “The Return of the Prodigal Son: The Story of Homecoming.”   He never admitted to me whether or not he ever read that book.  I certainly hope he did because throughout life, he – like all of us – existed in all three roles. 

On the surface, I was the son in our family who physically moved away.  He was the son who was there always (at home or nearby) until he married Rosemarie in 1987 and she married him.  Although he is now gone, I can image our parents rushing to greet him and show him around whatever the Kingdom is like after this mortal existence ends. 

Metaphorically, though, he was the Prodigal who left to find his place in the world.  His hands stretched out to help his patients but also would return to apply his medical knowledge and network to the care for first our father in his ALS, our mother with her dementia and then his own medical case.  Finally, he was the Father welcoming and teaching his two sons the lessons of service, hospitality, and humor.

Put yourself into the parable of the prodigal family: Brother, Sister, Father, and Mother.  How are you “living the painting?”  How are you using the immensity of your “inheritance” of compassion and mercy and perfection in the world?

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