For most people, going home for Christmas is met with anticipation and eagerness! Some unfortunately dread it. But everyone can agree that spending time with family comes with some challenges and occasional drama! Therefore, for the believer, visiting family should include self-examination and prayer in preparation.
At community group a few weeks ago, we shared our “goals” for spending Christmas with our families: ways that we need to grow in order to love our families well or share the gospel with them. One of the men in my group shared the idea that going home for Christmas can parallel the Prodigal Son parable of Luke 15:11-32. I been thinking on his comment ever since.
The story of the Prodigal Son includes 3 characters:
1.) the humbled, younger brother who once acted foolishly and disrespectfully, and hurt the people closest to him.
2.) the perfect, older brother who has a blameless slate, always pleases his parents, and is offended by his brother’s behavior.
3.) the welcoming, gracious father, who loves this sons without condition, and is overjoyed to have his youngest back home with the family.
Whether your family loves God and loves each other, or is completely dysfunctional, we will all resonate with at least one of these characters this Christmas season. Are you the younger brother who is coming home like a dog with its tail between his legs, or maybe with your defenses up, to a family who you’ve disappointed? Are you the older brother who is frustrated by the actions of a family member? Have you been betrayed and wounded by someone you love, like the father was?
No matter which character you resonate with, God can use the Prodigal Son parable to challenge you this Christmas. Maybe you are called to humble yourself and say, “sorry” or “you were right” to a family member you hurt. Maybe you are called give a thoughtful gift or laugh with a family member who you struggle to respect. Maybe you are called to embrace and forgive someone who hurt you.
As you make your way home for Christmas, what is God calling you to? Who is the person you want to share the gospel of humility and forgiveness with this season? Let’s join with our Father to celebrate the good news that He welcomed us sinners into his family!