Latest Rector’s Letter

The Prodigal Son

This word-perfect parable of Jesus is rightly regarded as probably the greatest and most famous short story ever told.
Luke 15, 11 – 32
Jesus said, A certain man had two sons: And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me.
And he divided unto them his living. And not many days after the
younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far
country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living. And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want. And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him.
And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father’s have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, and am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants. And he arose, and came to his father.
But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him. And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son. But the
father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry: For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry.
Now his elder son was in the field: and as he came and drew nigh to the house, he heard musick and dancing. And he called one of the servants, and asked what these things meant. And he said unto him, Thy brother is come; and thy father hath killed the fatted calf, because he hath received him safe and sound. And he was angry, and would not go in: therefore came his father out, and intreated him. And he answering said to his father, Lo, these many years do I serve thee, neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment: and yet thou never gavest me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends: But as soon as this thy son was come, which hath devoured thy living with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf. And he said unto him, Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine. It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found.
In the chapter, this parable follows those of the lost sheep and the lost coin, the common theme being the joy generated by the finding of that which was lost, be it a sheep, a coin, a son, or a repentant sinner. The three parables are Jesus’s response to the criticism made by the Pharisees and the scribes, ‘This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them.’
The younger son’s share of the estate would have been one-third and the elder son’s two-thirds (Deuteronomy 21, 17). Division would normally take place at the father’s death, and the younger son showed arrogance in disregarding his father’s authority and initiating this early division.
According to the law of Moses, pigs were unclean animals (Leviticus 11, 2 – 8; Deuteronomy 14, 8). They could not be eaten, used for sacrifices, or even touched. For a Jew to feed pigs was a great humiliation, and to eat the food that the pigs had touched was to reach rock-bottom.
In this story, the father watched and waited. He was dealing with a selfish human being with a will of his own, but he was ready to greet his son if he returned. In the same way, God’s love is constant and and patient and welcoming, and like the father in this story God waits patiently for us to come to our senses.
The younger son returns home and in great humility and the father is overjoyed and reacts accordingly. The older brother, however, is bitter and angry at the warm welcome given to the prodigal, and his attitude may be compared with that of the self-righteous Pharisees. We can only hope he found a way of accepting his father’s final reassurance, and we too should rejoice like the angels in heaven over repentant sinners who return to God, and give them our wholehearted support and encouragement.

Arnold Taylor.
Editor – Mr W. Ball
The Old Vicarage, Reades Lane, Congleton, CW12 3LL
All Saints’ Chapel, Somerford: Our season of services this year
continues with Evensong today, 3rd June, at 2.30 pm. All are welcome
and there will be refreshments afterwards.
Margaret Pennington
On Rogation Sunday, at the start of her Pentecost walk to Chester, we
welcomed the Bishop of Stockport and fellow pilgrims to tea and
biscuits at Astbury.
Refreshed, and raring to go . . .