Trinity '22: Part 3 – Father of Love
This Sunday, Simon Lace brings us the talk in the latest of our EBC services. We encourage you to reflect on the bible text and join us in the prayer that follows below.
The talk will be available via live stream at 9.30am on Sunday 19th June, on our YouTube channel.
Once you have listened, here are some questions to consider:
Luke chapter 15 verses 11-32 (NLT)
To illustrate the point further, Jesus told them this story: “A man had two sons. The younger son told his father, ‘I want my share of your estate now before you die.’ So his father agreed to divide his wealth between his sons.
“A few days later this younger son packed all his belongings and moved to a distant land, and there he wasted all his money in wild living. About the time his money ran out, a great famine swept over the land, and he began to starve. He persuaded a local farmer to hire him, and the man sent him into his fields to feed the pigs. The young man became so hungry that even the pods he was feeding the pigs looked good to him. But no one gave him anything.
“When he finally came to his senses, he said to himself, ‘At home even the hired servants have food enough to spare, and here I am dying of hunger! I will go home to my father and say, “Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son. Please take me on as a hired servant.”’
“So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him. His son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son’
“But his father said to the servants, ‘Quick! Bring the finest robe in the house and put it on him. Get a ring for his finger and sandals for his feet. And kill the calf we have been fattening. We must celebrate with a feast, for this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found.’ So the party began.
“Meanwhile, the older son was in the fields working. When he returned home, he heard music and dancing in the house, and he asked one of the servants what was going on. ‘Your brother is back,’ he was told, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf. We are celebrating because of his safe return.’
“The older brother was angry and wouldn’t go in. His father came out and begged him, but he replied, ‘All these years I’ve slaved for you and never once refused to do a single thing you told me to. And in all that time you never gave me even one young goat for a feast with my friends. Yet when this son of yours comes back after squandering your money on prostitutes, you celebrate by killing the fattened calf!’
“His father said to him, ‘Look, dear son, you have always stayed by me, and everything I have is yours. 32 We had to celebrate this happy day. For your brother was dead and has come back to life! He was lost, but now he is found!’”
1 Corinthians chapter 13 (NIV)
If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
Prayer & Reflection
Loving Father, Lord Jesus, Holy Spirit, thank you for the freedom that you give us to make our own choices, and that you are so willing to forgive us, and so eager to see us come to our senses and return to you that you run to us even while we are still a long way off.
Loving God, help us to come to our senses, help us repent – change our minds, think again – and return to you. We are sorry for the times we have abandoned you, and wasted the blessings you want to bestow on us and the gifts you have lovingly given to us.
Forgive us, O God, for the times we have hurt other people, or settled for unforgiveness and hardened our hearts. Help us to treat one another with love and compassion and forgiveness, even if they hurt us, and aren’t sorry and don’t deserve it. For we know we don’t deserve your love and mercy and forgiveness either, but you give it all to us anyway. Thank you, Father. Amen.
Questions to Consider
1) What are the things that strike you most about this ‘parable of the loving Father’? Is there a particular verse that really grips you? If so, why?
2) Is there an area of your own life where you feel guilty because you know you have wronged God, and perhaps another person? Spend some time reflecting on the situation, and in the light of this parable, about what you can do about it.
3) Sometime in life there is nothing we can do but talk to God, pray that He would help, and then trust God for the outcome. If we believe in God, and submit to His will, we must surely trust Him. What do you need to trust God with today?
4) In the reading from 1 Corinthians, Paul, who wrote the letters to the early church at Corinth, sets out the kind of behaviours that a loving person exhibits. Anything particularly challenging to you in that list?