When I was a child, my family made the journey from Wellington to Christchurch many times to visit my grandparents. My dad liked to book a late evening ferry crossing and drive through the night. As we got closer to our nana and grandad’s house, my brother and I would wake up in anticipation of our reunion. And every time we rounded the corner into their street, the first thing we saw was the front porch light on to welcome us.
As we excitedly got out of the car, Nana would rush out of the front door and down the path to greet us with big cuddles and happy tears. She would lead us inside wiping her eyes with a flapping handkerchief that appeared from somewhere within her bosom. I haven’t met many people who made me feel quite as welcome as Nana did.
In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus tells the parable of the Prodigal Son who asks his father for his inheritance, then leaves town and recklessly squanders it. Despite feeling ashamed and unworthy, he travels home to ask his father for forgiveness and receives an unexpected response: his father was not angry with him, he was overjoyed to see him! We are told that ‘When he was still a long way off, his father saw him. His heart pounding, he ran out, embraced him, and kissed him’ (Luke 15:20, MSG).
I know that Jesus extends the same hospitality, mercy and grace to us. He sees us when we’re still a long way off and he’s waiting for us to come to him. He’s not interested in where we’ve been or what we’ve been up to. He just loves us, totally and completely as we are. He wants us to celebrate and delight in his best for us with him. He might not have a flapping hanky, but he’s on that porch with his arms open wide saying, ‘Welcome home!’
WORDS Kelly Cooper | ART Sam Coates