Reading: Part I The Younger Son (p21 to 53)
Last week was an incredibly rich time of sharing and reflecting together. Henri did a marvelous job of preparing us to enter more deeply into the parable, and this week we focus our attention on the younger son. There is a lot to reflect upon in the text, so please feel free to share whatever comes up for you.
1) Henri writes, “Home is the center of my being where I can hear the voice that says: ‘You are my beloved…’ Yet over and over I have left home… searching for love.” (p. 37, 39)
a) Is there a special place in your life that is “home” for you? Are there times that you have been unable to “hear” God’s voice and have left home?
b) How and when did you hear the call to return?
2) “Even in the midst of his debasement, he had clung to the truth that he still was the son of his father… The sword was there to show me that, although he came back speaking as a beggar and an outcast, he had not forgotten that he still was the son of his father. It was the remembered and valued sonship that finally persuaded him to turn back” (p42).
a) Is there a Bible verse, a symbol, something in nature, that is a reminder to you of your place as the Beloved child of God? How can you keep it with you always?
3) Henri distinguishes between “a self-serving repentance that offers the possibility of survival” (p47) and a repentance that involves a breaking “away from my deep-rooted rebellion against God and surrendering myself so absolutely to God’s love that a new person can emerge…Receiving forgiveness requires a total willingness to let God be God and do all the healing, restoring, and renewing” (p 48).
a) How do you understand the difference between these two kinds of repentance?
b) Have you experienced the latter? Can you share your experience with us?
4) Henri calls the Beatitudes (Matt 5: 1-12) a self portrait of Jesus and says they “…offer me the simplest route for the journey home…” (p 54) He then presents Jesus as becoming the prodigal son for our sake—a portrayal that goes beyond the traditional interpretation. “The young man being embraced by the Father is no longer just one repentant sinner, but the whole of humanity returned to God.” (p 58)
a) Does considering the Beatitudes as Jesus’ self portrait help you to better understand the Beatitudes? Jesus?
b) How do the Beatitudes point the way for humanity to follow Jesus and return to God?
We eagerly await your comments on these questions or anything else in the reading you would like to share and we look forward to the gifts that will be revealed through each of you in the week ahead.
Ray and Brynn