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Jeff Long: Holiday gatherings

During the holiday season we find that the true reasons for the celebrations are put on the back burner. Christmas has become more commercialized instead of the true celebration of the birth of Jesus. Retailers and manufacturers look for increased sales and productivity. This provides income that helps both the companies and their employees enjoy the materialistic rewards rather than the true identity of the holidays. Children and some adults look forward to reaping the harvest of presents. While older adults, mainly parents and grandparents, look forward to the gathering of the family.

While I was thinking about family gatherings and celebrations, the story of the prodigal son came to mind. In Luke 15:11-32 Jesus speaks a parable of the lost son. There were two sons, the younger went to his father and ask for his share of inheritance; Luke 15:12-13,” And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me.’ And he divided unto him 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.”

This like many, or at least some of our family members, should ring a bell. As we get older and have our own lives, we leave home and sometimes it doesn’t pan out like expected. I know this isn’t a holiday, but I’m trying to set the stage of a son or daughter leaving home for whatever reason.

The celebration starts after the younger son realizes he was better off at home; Luke 15:17,” 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!’” The younger son went back home and his father was ecstatic; Luke 15:20,” 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.”

Just as during these holidays, parents embrace the return of their children; as did this father. They forget whatever took them away, and celebrate their return just as he did; Luke 15:22-23, “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:’”

Now, just as our celebrations should be joyous for all, this one took a turn in the other direction. The older son was in the field working and returned to hear and see this unplanned celebration; Luke 15:26-27, “And he called one of the servants, and ask what these things meant. And he said into him, ‘Thy brother is come; and thy father hath killed the fatted calf, because he has received him safe and sound.’” This made the older son angry; Luke 15:28, “And he was angry, and would not go in: Therefore came his father out, and intreated him.”

Sound familiar? How many family gatherings have some acts of jealousy or envy between its members? Usually always some confrontation arises,and usually the parents turn into

mediators.

I know this isn’t a holiday as we are celebrating during this season, but it is a family gathering that denotes the challenges of everyone coming back home. So this season try to be understanding and show that same compassion spoke of in Luke 15:20 by the father. This I believe will make for a more meaningful experience for all involved. Take the drama away from controversial issues, and put the emphasis back on the true meaning of the celebration.

 

Admit to God you’re a sinner, believe in the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus and ask for forgiveness. Show compassion on others. Ask God to guide you to a most rewarding

celebration for this season and eternity. Remember, all families have a lost son but each of us is

a prodigal in our own sense. God bless all!

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