Squeals of Delight
I didn’t have to preach today. The surgeon who worked on my neck this past week suggested that I need to take two weeks off to let it heal. While it is not the greatest suggestion for a vacation, I am going with it. The only thing is that today’s Gospel reading has got to be one of the best Gospels on which to preach. So I thought I would just tell you a little story that I read somewhere this week that I think was an absolutely perfect way to explain the story of the runaway son. (I am only sorry that I cannot remember the name of the person who told this story so that I can give him or her credit.)
A young mother had placed her son in a highchair and put a bowl of dry Cheerios in front of him. (As the oldest of seven children, I saw my mother do this many times.) As the little boy used his chubby thumb and finger to pick up each Cheerio and shove it into his mouth, he eventually did what every little boy has done; he dropped one. It fell into his lap or into the fold of his bib and was lost. However, this little guy was not about to let that stray Cheerio go without a fight. He searched, and searched, and searched. The young mother said to him, “Don’t worry! You have plenty Cheerios sitting there in front of you. Just forget about it.” No, he was not about to let it go. Eventually, he found it and held it in his chubby little hand waving it at his mother, laughing and squealing with delight. His mother smiled and said, “Maybe that is the way God feels when something lost is found!”
Having read that story, throughout this Sunday I have had a picture in my mind of God laughing and squealing with delight as the runaway boy is finally home.
Notice that I do not refer to him as the prodigal son. I have come to the conclusion that God is the one who is prodigal, God is the one who is wasteful of the gift of mercy. God throws mercy at every sinner, over and over and over again. Yes, much of it goes wasted. But just think of the squeals of delight when it squarely hits a repentant sinner!