This morning’s message comes to us from Rev’d Willie
Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. 12 The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.13 “Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. 14 After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. 16 He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.17 “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18 I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ 20 So he got up and went to his father.“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.21 “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’22 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. 24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.
I love this story and it often brings me to tears as I remember that, I too, am a prodigal son who has come home running to my God and Father. I want to share a good news ‘prodigal daughter’ story from Drumbeg, to cheer you up, and to remind you that even in a small church family like ours, God is working powerfully to his praise and glory.
Back in December we had a great Advent Concert here at St Patrick’s with Chris Eaton and Dave Pope. Chris is one of Cliff Richard’s song writers and toured with Cliff many times; Dave is one very special friend to this Parish and has sung, preached and prayed with us a number of times. He too is singer and yesterday I was blessed to hear his Album was bringing hope to some of our older Parishioners in these dark days.
I invited people from everywhere to the Concert, because not many from Drumbeg took up the invitation. The crowds came, a full church, and among them a mummy; one of our besties! During the concert Dave gave a short Christmas message and at the end of the message he left a time of silence to pray. That mummy could have prayed about anything, but she just felt her heart burning to pray for her lovely, pretty, full of life daughter, now working across the water. Although brought up in the Church, it has slipped from her priorities and her mummy just knew that having a living friendship with Jesus was important. What did that mummy pray that evening? ‘Lord bring my beautiful girl to a deeper faith’…or something that simple. Thanks to Dave Pope leaving that silence, God got to work on that mummy’s prayer.
Two weeks later her daughter was walking down her street and outside a church, which her daughter says she had never noticed before, was ‘an Ordinand’ putting up a poster for the Christmas Carol service. The ‘prodigal daughter’, being a bouncing friendly Irish girl, stopped and got chatting and was invited to go along. Guess what, that Sunday evening her and her boyfriend went to the service. I’m loving this story – read on. Then just a week later that daughter and her mummy were sitting in our church at the Christmas Eve Communion. They came to the rail, I stopped to as I sometimes do, and they cried! When they went back to their seat’s that mummy on discovering her daughter had gone to Church in England, just had to tell her what she had prayed; sitting just three seats from where she had prayed three weeks earlier, she told her daughter what she had done…they both cried some more!
Since Christmas the ‘prodigal daughter’ and her boyfriend have become regulars at that little London Church. They have been welcomed, remembered and loved by that church family; they have even been invited for dinner. I have known this family for nearly 20 years, have watched and longed for their ‘daughter’ to become a ’prodigal daughter’, and behold through a prayer prayed at a Christmas Concert in little St Patrick’s Drumbeg, God used Chris Eaton and Dave Pope to bring a mother to prayer and to bring a daughter home to himself. No one knows the significance of that for me and others in the Parish who planned this concert; the whole purpose of the concert was encourage us all to walk a little bit closer to Jesus!
I often pray for the children I have ministered to down through the years; I’m getting so old now that I am already marrying them and baptising their babies – what a privilege. Many have continued with Jesus, some have drifted a little and sadly two have passed away. I pray that every life I have touched and that hasn’t yet ‘Come home running’, will in these days begin to understand that the God I proclaim is waiting as a Father to hold them again in his arms. To cry tears of welcome and to give them his peace, his comfort and his reassurance in these dark times that for those who are in Christ the future is absolutely secure and certain!
In January 2004 at my Alice’s baptism in Hillsborough Parish Hall one of my dear friends Jenny Williams gave me song to sing; ‘Come home running’ by Christ Tomlin. It is my prayer that these trying times will be turned to the good as lost sons, lost daughters and lost people everywhere turn back to our God and Father who in his Son Jesus Christ has made it possible for us to be called the ‘children of God’. I wish more mums would pray prayers for their children!
Perhaps this link to the song will help you and I to come closer to him ourselves.
STAY IN, STAY WELL AND STAY WITH THE LORD,