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Students sitting outside Bockman
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Friday, March 04, 2016

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This story has been playing out for thousands of years: two sons (or two daughters), two points of view, two different paths through life. What does it take to go beyond jealousy and resentment? Are we able to celebrate when our families have the chance to be whole again? Why is it so hard to be compassionate?

The younger son does not know the satisfaction of hard work. His understanding of living the dream is narrow. His "dissolute living" has resulted in many mornings after. He has little else. The dutiful elder son has worked and learned alongside his father. He will inherit the wealth of the family: jewelry, fine robes, animals and land. Still, sadly, the elder is not whole. He is resentful and angry. "All these years...I have have never...who has devoured..." He has neither asked his father for, nor been given the means to party with his buddies. The elder son is stuck. He can't see past his anger. He feels wronged, life is unfair.

Generous God, love us when we are dissolute and angry. Help us to see beyond the superficial. Teach us to be compassionate, share what is ours, and celebrate when we can begin again. Amen.

Jennifer Bartholomew
Digital Resources, Instruction and Outreach, Luther Seminary Library

Luke 15:11b-32 (NRSV)

11 "There was a man who had two sons.
12 The younger of them said to his father, "Father, give me the share of the property that will belong to me.' So he divided his property between them.
13 A few days later the younger son gathered all he had and traveled to a distant country, and there he squandered his property in dissolute living.
14 When he had spent everything, a severe famine took place throughout that country, and he began to be in need.
15 So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed the pigs.
16 He would gladly have filled himself with the pods that the pigs were eating; and no one gave him anything.
17 But when he came to himself he said, "How many of my father's hired hands have bread enough and to spare, but here I am dying of hunger!
18 I will get up and go to my father, and I will say to him, "Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you;
19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; treat me like one of your hired hands." '
20 So he set off and went to his father. But while he was still far off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion; he ran and put his arms around him and kissed him.
21 Then the son said to him, "Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.'
22 But the father said to his slaves, "Quickly, bring out a robe--the best one--and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet.
23 And get the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate;
24 for this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found!' And they began to celebrate.
25 "Now his elder son was in the field; and when he came and approached the house, he heard music and dancing.
26 He called one of the slaves and asked what was going on.
27 He replied, "Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fatted calf, because he has got him back safe and sound.'
28 Then he became angry and refused to go in. His father came out and began to plead with him.
29 But he answered his father, "Listen! For all these years I have been working like a slave for you, and I have never disobeyed your command; yet you have never given me even a young goat so that I might celebrate with my friends.
30 But when this son of yours came back, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fatted calf for him!'
31 Then the father said to him, "Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours.
32 But we had to celebrate and rejoice, because this brother of yours was dead and has come to life; he was lost and has been found.' "

This God Pause daily devotion is brought to you by the alumni of Luther Seminary.