Thursday: Psalm 107; Isaiah 56; Luke 15.11-end

From: Lexi Carver

Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants. – Luke 15

Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! – Isaiah 55

I love the story of the irresponsible son, his bitter brother, and their wonderfully merciful, extravagant father.

I’m sometimes like the older brother, trying to earn God’s approval and frustrated at the futility of my endeavors. I have a harder time letting God see my mud stains and dirty knees, admitting when I’ve wasted something of myself.

But I remember that it is not the young prodigal son who is left dissatisfied in the end. It is the one trying to earn his way into God’s good graces who misses the generous love of the father. And the father running to his dirty, smelly, unglamorous son recalls the picture of God coming to earth – and entering our lives – through a dirty, smelly, unglamorous barn.

God has often worked to circumvent my ambitions and coax the bitter, hardworking-but-self-pitying older brother inside of me out into the open to receive the love it needs. He has also worked to train the reckless prodigal inside of me into a stronger and more responsible spirit. This Advent, I hope he grows more room inside of me to both receive Him humbly and to behave obediently.

As we recognize his messy, confoundingly unglamorous arrival into our world, may we each be given new forms of miraculous readiness: to show God our dirty knees, labor without missing his generosity, and embrace the Father’s celebratory arms.

I live in Cambridge with my husband Connor and our cat Billboard, who often sounds like a wild turkey.