Here’s an excerpt from an article with the same name, from the Sept/Oct edition of Christian Woman magazine. It was written by Wyveta Kirk. I thought it made an interesting point about how the Church usually falls short in following God’s example in the parable of the Prodigal Son.
Yet, how differently we Christians often respond to such a prodigal. We sit wondering if he is genuinely repentant and question if he will again return to his pig pen. We gossip about his prior behavior and wait for him to prove that he had changed before we accept him as “one of us.”
A few of us may go sit with him when he asks for prayers, but not many. One or two may even hug him, but is it a hug he will never forget? Is it a hug that demonstrates warmth and full acceptance? Afterward, we go our separate ways, forgetting about the prodigal. We never plan a celebration.
I think every church in America must be noted for hang potlucks at almost any occasion. We host a party honoring our graduates. We honor our newborns and engaged couples. We have a party for members who are moving away. But I have never seen a party held in honor of a prodigal brother or sister who returns. We don’t show the world that we are solidly behind the prior prodigal’s decision to repent. Our behavior doesn’t show those who would say something negative about or returned prodigal that we will challenge them because he or she had our complete forgiveness and support.
Let’s change this! Let me challenge you to accept responsibility to organize a potluck to celebrate when the next prodigal returns to your church. Let those who want to act like the selfish, critical younger brother stay home. God will deal with them.
I challenge you to flood your returning prodigal with so much love that he or she will never want to leave again. Cover your returning prodigal’s sins with a love that dares anyone to bring up his past. If a potluck isn’t appropriate where you worship, invite the returned prodigal to your home or out to a restaurant.
The issue isn’t to share food but to celebrate a lost brother’s or Sister’s return. We must remember that even while living a prodigal lifestyle, they are still our brother or sister. A prodigal son is still the Father’s son. He is a son who is living in win and desperately needs to return home. Meanwhile, God sits, anxiously waiting for His lost son’s heart to soften so that he will return home. Let’s do our part to make it easier for prodigal’s to return.
To celebrate a prodigal’s return would be following our heavenly Father’s demonstration in the story of the prodigal son.