“Let’s have a feast and celebrate! For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found!’ So they began to celebrate.”
The prodigal son has dragged himself home from his far away wanderings. His father, overjoyed at his return, drops everything and orders the household to prepare a banquet. The appointed hour arrives. Wine flows, food in abundance fills the merry makers. Everyone is swept up in a whirl of laughter, celebration and dancing. But, what if?
What if the son spends the evening at his father’s side recalling over and over again the degradations of his past life. Even as the father has forgotten it all and wants to cover it with joy and celebration, all the son can do is keep reviewing the contents of the garbage can, and tell the father about all the things he intends to do to make it up to him. This cannot be what the father had in mind.
When Christian people permit the spectres of the past to haunt the present, or focus too much on the utilities of living, we forget that we have a right to put the past away, along with our incessant need to be doing something, and simply be swallowed up in the joys of the kingdom. Christ Jesus has given us that right. Our sins belong to Him. And he wants us to forget them, just as He has.
C.S. Lewis tells the story of a group of people who found themselves together, quite by coincidence. They all knew each other and spent an evening in casual conversation, occasionally giving one another glimpses into the deeper parts of their lives. When the evening ended, and the people returned to their homes, some felt guilty that their conversations had not confronted the pressing political, economic and social ills of the day. They had done nothing but enjoy one another.
I suspect that heaven is going to look far more like the Sunday church coffee hour than the monthly church council meeting. God is preparing a banquet for us. It will be an occasion with no other purpose than to enjoy God and one another. It will be the restoration of what God intended for us all along; the celebration of His love, crowned with unalloyed joy and pure enjoyment.
“May the peace of God that passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord.”