Monday, March 19, 2007

The Prodigal Son - but what about when the memory has gone?

Yesterday's lectionary gospel was Luke 15 - the parable of the Prodigal Son.
This story works out on a number of levels - Israel's return from exile etc.
But one of the most fascinating points to come out of our community discussion last night was how pivotal the role of memory was in the story.
It was when the son, who was living in a far off land, remembered the goodness of his Father that he decided to come home.
Now if we're talking about Israel's return from exile - then no problem. The memory was kept alive in the continuous retelling of the story.

But when we use this story to speak of people coming home to God - and I think it's appropriate for us to employ the story in this way - then how does it work if there is no memory of being at home with God in the first place to draw upon?

This is a very important story for us - our little community is called 'home' because that sense of home-coming, which is portrayed so beautifully in this story, is what we're all about. We want to embody God's call to come home. This is what mission is all about for us.

In what sense do the people around us have that memory of being at home with God? Is it like a primeval thing? You know - collectively as a human race we have a deep rooted sense of our homeland even if we don't have that memory on an individual conscious level?

Is that the best way to understand it?


Kyle said...

I think of "home" as being less a place than a way of being with people, a kind of atmosphere in which people can know they really belong with another group of people - I guess its in that way of being that the "echoes" in our hearts of what we'd want "home" to be can be fulfilled. - whether or not one has had the experience that would create the echo.

Matt said...

so you're talking about home being a place where we can know we are truly accepted for who we are and that we don't need to try to earn love? am i hearing you right?
i agree - and to me that speaks of a kind of primal knowledge regardless of whether we have experienced it or not (in the love of our parents etc). We just 'know' that's how things are supposed to be.
So somehow the church must find ways of inviting people into that - not that it belongs to us but we are signposts towards it and it is slowly becoming a reality amongst us.