Devotional — ‘Letting go’

Published 12:47 pm Thursday, March 31, 2022

Then Jesus said, “There was a man who had two sons. NRS Luke 15:11

These familiar words from the Gospel of Luke begin an even more familiar parable of the “prodigal son.” It is one of many parables about God’s concern for those who have trouble finding God and living into a loving relationship with their creator. It tells of a younger son who asks for and receives his inheritance. He promptly goes to a far off land and wastes his money on wine women and song. Broke, he ends up tending pigs and starving. He decides to return to his father, beg forgiveness and ask for a job as a hired hand.

When he returns, the father sees him while he is far away, orders a feast be made, runs to him with new clothes and welcomes him home with an abundance of love and joyful celebration. The older brother, who has remained and worked hard on the father’s farm, hears the commotion and asks a servant, “Why all the noise?” The older son is incensed to learn that the younger “prodigal” son has returned and welcomed as a returning hero.

There are many lessons to we can learn from this parable. Often, we look quickly to the “father’s” forgiveness and rejoice in the knowledge that God always forgives the penitent. However, as often forget the lesson that the older son’s reactions can teach us. Perhaps it is that we so often agree with the anger the elder son exhibits. He has worked hard and now is in exactly the same place as the younger, who squandered the father’s hard-earned wealth. We resonate with his anger and feeling of being “wronged.” We want to scream in chorus with the eldest, “It’s not fair!”

I think that especially in the season of Lent we need to look at this parable and remember that through Christ, our God wipes away our sin no matter how hard we work. We also must learn to let go of all the anger we have with those who have not “measured up” to our standards. In holding on to the anger, we miss the best thing that God gives, loving forgiveness.

That is why we have Lent, a time when we are to work on letting go of the good things so that we may enjoy the best things.

Keith Leach is Pastor of College Church and College Chaplain at Hampden-Sydney College. He can be reached at kleach@hsc.edu.