Sunday, March 18, 2007

Local Boy Returns (One Love Takes All)

Luke 15: 11-32
2 Cor. 5: 16-21

Once there were two sons.

Their father raised them in the company business, construction. The older son took to it quickly, and spent his school breaks from Middle School on driving around with his dad in the big spiffy pickup with the family name on the door. He loved getting dirty, loved climbing on the frames of the houses, loved the sounds of air hammers and power saws.

The younger son, fascinated with the design of the buildings, loved to see the architects’ drawings, and could imagine how rooms would be used, what the spaces would feel like.

In short, both sons were very much their father’s boys, but they had strengths that didn’t match each other. And as so often happens, as they grew, they focused on each others’ differences, rather than on the fact that both of them had great talents as builders.

It came to pass that the boys came to a place where they couldn’t be around each other much anymore. The older son had become a regular part of the company then, so it didn’t seem to the younger that there was any place in the company. He asked his father for his share of the company. The father, who could see how the two brothers complemented each other so well, was very sad, but also wise enough to know that people have to make their own way, gave him an amount of money equal to half the value of the company. The younger son hung his company jacket and ball cap rather forcefully in a locker, and he was off.

He visited many of the places he had always dreamed about—he stood under the steeple at Notre Dame, he sketched the perfect dimensions of the Taj Mahal, he walked across the Golden Gate Bridge.

Meanwhile, the older son developed his talents, too, and became an ace builder under his father’s tutelage. He could organize a build down to the last nail, paycheck and city permit, and the company became famous for its reliability.

But the father still knew that with the younger son home and using what talents God had given him, the company would not only be known for reliability but also for creativity. So he bided his time, knowing that God had a way of bringing around what’s right.

So the younger son blew through what he had been given, as is often the case. He was still absolutely sure that there was no place for him, and finally, after many trials and tribulations, signed on with a group of outlaws. His childhood experiences made him a perfect team member of thieves who would go around at night, pilfering copper pipe from building sites.

One night, after a particularly successful night, sitting in the back seat of the truck with his head against the glass, he heard his fellow thieves begin to brag about how much the copper would go for, and how much they had probably delayed the build they had raided.

And the younger son, with his head against the glass staring at the lights going by, suddenly realized that even with all this copper pipe, split among all the gang members, he would still have less than the cheapest day laborer got paid by his dad.

So he decided that enough was enough. He would go home, ask for his dad to hire him at the day laborer wage, and deal with his brothers’ scorn. It couldn’t be worse than this.

So he returned. As he came walking into the company yard, his father saw him through the window, but at first thought it was a day laborer who was late.

He stepped out to talk to the guy about the value of punctuality, and realized who it was, and laughed in joy! He called out to the people back in the office to bring out the jacket and the cap from the locker he had left, and rush out to put it on him. Then he called everyone in the yard over to the roadhouse across the street to celebrate!
From across the yard, the other brother saw the figure, and knew who it was. When he saw his dad rush out and place the jacket and cap with their name on it, he started to burn in his belly. “He left us, how is it right that he gets all of it back?” Then, when he saw his dad sweep him arm towards the roadhouse, he just about saw red. “He left us! How can dad do this!”

So he went over to the road house, but would not go in. He just stood out in the parking lot. Eventually, his dad saw him out the window, and he put down his steak knife. Walking out to his older son, he saw the waves of heat coming off of him, the set of his jaw and his crumpled up brows.

“Why are you doing this—that son of yours blew half our profits while I was here working like a dog! And now you welcome him back?”

And the father said to him, “Yes I do. He is one of us, and his talents will make this company even greater. You have great talents, my son, but with his, the whole build, from ideas to execution, become a reality for us. We need him, you need him, just as much as he needs you. Between the two of you, ideas and practicality, there’s nothing that can’t be done.

And that’s what I want from you two.”

When Jesus dies on the cross, he died for all. Not just for the practical, the ones who know how to organize down to the last detail. Not just for the dreamers, the ones who know what the Kingdom feels like because they can imagine it. He died for all of us. One Love takes all of us in. What God wants from us is to learn how we can mesh our talents to make the perfect building company.

So, in this Lenten time of growing and searching, let me ask this question. Which brother are you? Or are you a combination of both? One Love Takes All. Paul tells us that if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation, everything old has passed away, and everything has become new. If you are in Christ, if you believe in Christ and his salvation of your life, you have become new. One Love takes all of us in. The Love of God. The love shown by Christ on the Cross. It’s there, we just have to believe it and accept it. Allow ourselves to be enveloped by it. One love takes all.

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