By the Rev. Mark Winther
The boy lagged a few steps behind his hurried mother. Her impatient encouragement to hurry up seemed to fall on deaf ears. The boy stared down at his candy, so engrossed that he stopped walking.
"Would you like strawberry-banana, or raspberry?" he asked his mother as though it were the most important question in the world.
"Come on, hurry up!" was her reply.
We live in a strawberry-banana world. There are exciting choices, opportunities, and flavors to enhance our world and add simple pleasures to our lives. More often than not, however, many of us rush past these moments of enjoyment to get on with life. In the process, we miss the very life we seek.
In the well-known parable of the prodigal son, the lost son returns home to the loving embrace of his father. His father does not ask for a confession, he does not ask if his son is truly remorseful for throwing away the family inheritance. What does he do? He celebrates! He gives his son a robe, a symbol of honorable reinstatement. He gives him a ring, a symbol of family authority. He gives him sandals, which elevates him above the state of a slave, for slaves went barefoot. He kills the calf saved only for the most special occasion. The wise father quickly sums up the situation and knows it is time to celebrate, for the lost has returned.
The older son, however, the one who stayed home and did all that his father asked, refuses to celebrate. He will rejoice neither in the father's love nor God's forgiveness. He is so caught up with being miserable that he misses his chance to celebrate.
How much God wants us to celebrate. How much God desires our joy. God rejoices in the one lost sinner who returns home. God relishes in extending and lavishing the grace upon us. God knows how to throw a party! And it is not enough for God to celebrate alone. God gives all the angels in heaven party horns to join in when the one who was lost returns home.
God's first order of business for each of us is to celebrate. We have been chosen by God from the beginning of the world! The creator of the universe - the one who has defeated sin, death, and the devil - has called us into an intimate relationship. God has created us simply so that he might love us, and we might love him. How can we do anything but celebrate?