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Jesus tells the story of the Prodigal Son and portrays the father as running. That may sound reasonable to us; however, it is shocking to the listeners of His times. Back in those days a Middle Eastern man never ran for one simple reason — running would be difficult in a tunic. A male would have to grab the hem of his fabric and raise it to avoid tripping. In doing this, he would have to show his bare legs, and that was considered inappropriate. In today’s world, anyone who has seen their own dad’s bare legs if they are pale and scrawny can see that it wasn’t so much the running that made them feel embarrassed. It was the legs themselves. It’s a sight that many children wish they’d never see—not unlike to the dad with white tube socks on with their sandals.
So, why did the Prodigal’s father run? I’d be willing to bet that it was out of pure joy and love that he returned, and he wanted to approach him before any other person did. You see, one of the first things they did when a wayward soul returned home back then was hold a kezazah ceremony. In this act, the village would break a large pot in front of the boy, and that symbolized the irreparable harm that the son has caused. Through this ceremony the village would officially proclaim the separation between the boy and the village.
In the Bible parable, Jesus does not allow for that to happen. Instead, he speaks of the father racing out to greet his son before the village does because he is joyful to have his son return home. The villagers, seeing an embarrassing train wreck racing out of the village, cannot avert their eyes. They are caught witnessing the father mercifully accepting what they were about to righteously reject. The father restores the son who had acted shamefully with his own embarrassing display.
Like Grace Elizabeth’s dad, parents want their young people to feel secure, For many, if that means climbing onto an amusement park ride and facing their own fears. It’s an act of courageousness and personal growth, which stems from the unwavering love that a parent can have for their child.
For Discussion: To what extremes should the church go in her efforts to assure that her children are greeted with love and not judgment? Please comment below with your critique clarifications, and responses. <image source>
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