Walking the dog along the beach I met with a gentleman who was doing exactly the same. He recognised me from a funeral service I had conducted and we began talking. He shared with me that he had not been to church since his Sunday school days some sixty years previously. He gave many reasons, the upheaval of leaving home to complete National Service, working long hours to support his growing family, seeing his children grow up and leaving home. Then the sad loss of his dear wife a few years ago had led him to think about God and had even given serious thought about attending church again. Regrettably he never did, too many years had passed and because of this he felt that he was (in his own words) ‘not good enough to return’ When I said that I often felt the same he was quite taken aback. ‘You’ve got to be good’he said – it’s you job’!
I tried to explain that none of us are good enough and certainly not the Minister! We all stand in constant need of God’s forgiveness and love and the church is made up of those who have found God to be faithful to his word and are ever aware that we are loved far beyond their deserving. Then hesaid ‘Isn’t that something to do with that prodigal son who came home and became a servant in his father’s kitchen’He had, at least, part of the story right!‘No’ completely wrong!The boy was welcomed not as a servant but as a son, and his father’s heart overflowed with joy because the lost son had been found and his family was complete again.
Father’s Day, which we celebrate on Sunday,reminds us of that truth. The Lord’s Prayer begins by addressing God as ‘Our Father’ and as a good father loves and cares for his children so God’s love is even greater. Perhaps it’s time that like many a prodigal we get up and make our way home to church or chapel this Sunday, a place where he is waiting to welcome and give us the assurance that we are all God’s children. Happy Father’s Day to dads everywhere!