Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Will I Be Strong Enough?

So today I ask you a question…How many of you have ever been so annoyed or hurt or angry about how someone else acting, you ask them to stop, repeatedly, and they keep doing it, that you finally, “That’s it!  I’ve had it!  Enough is enough!”

I think just about everyone has reached a point that point.  Maybe it is a parent dealing with a child that just never seems to listen.   A child dealing with a parent that seems to never listen.  A sibling.  A friend. 

In reality, anybody can bug you so much to the point that you feel that enough is enough and you begin to turn your back on them.  You shut them out.  They are a lost cause.  Not worth my time.

Ever thought that?

This upcoming Sunday, the Gospel reading comes to us from Luke.  It is a very popular parable that is very commonly referred to as an all time favorite by many.

Naturally, I am referring to the Prodigal Son.  Yes, this is a great parable with a great fantastic lesson.  Normally we look at the Father in the story as God, this kind man who welcomes us home after we are lost and wander and feel that we have wasted everything we have been given.  Yet, when we repent and return, we are accepted with open, loving arms.  It is truly a great heart-warming story.

But, I want to take a look at it from another angle.  Now, as many of you know, there is another son in this story.  The older son.  Let’s just say he is not too pleased that there is a huge celebration for the son that took all his money and left.  I was the one that stayed and worked and have been there for you all these years…why does he get all of this praise for leaving!?

One thing I sometimes do when reflecting on a Passage is think of which character I fit in as.  Many times, I see myself as the Prodigal Son.  Crawling back begging for forgiveness.  Other times I look on and ask, “Uhhhh….why is that happening for them?”

I while back I attended an event here at Holy Communion where Bill Courtney came to speak about the documentary that had recently come out about the football team he coached at Manassas High School.  The title of the documentary is “Undefeated”.  If you have not seen it, I highly recommend it.  Be aware though, there is some foul language.  I do not want to spoil this for anyone who has not seen it, but I will try to briefly explain the plot.  Well, I won’t but IMDB says this… 

A documentary that follows the Manassas Tigers football team, a severely underfunded and underprivileged football team -- who were even hired out as a practice team for more successful schools -- as they reverse their fortunes, thanks to coach Bill Courtney.

So in the movie, there is a player on the team named Chavis.  To be nice, you could say he was not nice.  On many occasions, he is seen fighting with fellow teammates and being rude and disrespectful to others, peers and coaches.  The guy has a short temper and it is not fun to see him when he is angry.

After getting into another fight with a teammate, he walks out on the team.  Abandons them.

When I went to hear Courtney speak, someone asked him why he didn’t just kick him off the team.  It was obvious he was hurting them more than he was helping.

Coach Courtney’s response has stuck with me ever since hearing it.

He asked everyone, if they had to define what it meant to be a Christian in one word, what would it be.  He said that for him, it was forgiveness.  If you think about it, Jesus came down and died for our sins, to forgive us.  God’s grace, forgiveness.  To Coach Courtney, it was forgiveness, “Without that, we are all just Jewish or something.  I don’t know I am not really a theologian” he went on to joke. 

But he talked about how he thought about how on Sunday, when he was sitting in the pews, he would pray and always ask for forgiveness.  Each week he would go in and apologize for doing something and ask for forgiveness.  Then the next week, he would be right back there, apologizing for still doing it and again asking for forgiveness.

Does any of this sound familiar?  I know I feel that way many Sundays.  That I am constantly asking for forgiveness for something that I continue to do. 

Well, even during those times that I feel that I have really messed up, God is there.  So if He won’t give up on me, who am I to give up on them?

That was the question Coach Courtney asked himself.  Who am I not forgive them?  To not give them another chance?  Who am I to give up on someone?

So, there is the guy that used to lead all the music for our youth retreats when I was younger, Sam Hensley, perhaps you have heard of him.  He has a song that he wrote called Prodigal Son.  Surprisingly, it is about the Parable of the Prodigal Son. 

Throughout the song, he asks , ‘Will I be strong enough to welcome him home?”  Over and over, he asks “Will I be strong enough?”  There is so much anger that can be felt and we feel that forgiveness is out of the question, or we are can’t handle it anymore, “Enough is enough!”

At the end, again he asks, “Will I be strong enough to welcome him home?”

“Oh yes, I will be strong enough to welcome him home and I will say, ‘Welcome home my Prodigal Son, welcome home!”

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