Lord’s Day 9 (Q/A 26): THE PRODIGAL FATHER

26   Q.   What do you believe when you say,
“I believe in God, the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth”?

A.   That the eternal Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
who out of nothing created heaven and earth
and everything in them,^1
who still upholds and rules them
by his eternal counsel and providence,^2
is my God and Father
because of Christ the Son.^3
I trust God so much that I do not doubt
he will provide
whatever I need
for body and soul,^4
and will turn to my good
whatever adversity he sends upon me
in this sad world.^5
God is able to do this because he is almighty God^6
and desires to do this because he is a faithful Father.^7

^1 Gen. 1;Ps. 33:6
^2 Ps. 104; Ps. 115:3; Matt. 10:29; Heb. 1:3,
^3 John 1:12; Rom. 8:15; Gal. 4:5-7;Eph. 1:5
^4 Ps. 55:22; Matt. 6:25-26;Luke 12:22
^5 Rom. 8:28
^6 Rom. 10:12
^7 Matt. 6:32; 7:9


  LORD’S DAY 9 (Q/A 26)
“The Prodigal Father”

Your dad is not perfect. Neither was mine. Nor am I. Whether you had a deadbeat dad, or the most loving, supportive dad, he, like me, ain’t perfect. Not by any long shot. It took time, emotional and spiritual maturity, my being married with children, and the sheer act of the Holy Spirit to understand my own dad, to accept him for who he is, fully love and appreciate him in my life, and to ask his forgiveness a few years ago for the ways that I disrespected  him growing-up. When I stood as a candidate for General Assembly moderator, I shared with you and the whole Church my genuine desire and sense of call to pray and work for unity in the body, due in large part to the fact that the Church prayed for our family when just 11 years ago or so my parents were in a tumult, and in near divorce. Only by the grace and act of God did they make it through the hurricane, and are enjoying their retirement together.

Now as a father of two, I seek that same forgiveness and understanding from my sons, in the numerous absences as I head off to meetings, fly on a trip and miss a baseball game, or even when they grow frustrated because I’m dog-tired and can’t play at the moment.

Your dad is not perfect. Neither was mine. Nor am I.

I tell single guys and even my married peers: it’s easy to become a dad – it only takes a few minutes (biologically/physically speaking).  But it’s hard to be a good dad. It’s even harder to be an excellent and faithful one.

Your dad is not perfect. Neither was mine. Nor am I. But the dad of Jesus Christ was, is, and forever will be.

I am writing this reflection from Germany. Just last week our family was traveling together.  Two hours before I left home, we were swimming together in our backyard, laughing and goofing off. Then , it was all over, and hours later, I was on a plane. What keeps me connected to them  is our nightly Skype calls. But more importantly and most supremely, I entrust Daniel and Andrew into the arms of God. I have to. Because I can’t be there for them all the time. And even when I am, I will disappoint – they can tell you that even when I’m home I’m not always the most cheerful person. And don’t get them started on how I can’t always catch their fast baseball throws (although they can tell you of my occasional tennis ace serves!).  In those absences and  even when I’m present, I am continually committing my sons into the arms of God the Father because He alone is their ultimate, perfectly loving dad.  As a dad, I need to rely upon the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, because I don’t have it all. I just don’t. And I wasn’t meant to. And neither did/does your dad.  And for your dads out there – neither do you.

To man up enough to ask my own dad for his forgiveness, to take responsibility for my own sons’ nurture and well-being while being authentic with them when I reach a limit, and to commit my own successes and failures to God the Father — all this takes an act of God, it takes the work of the Father’s Son, Jesus Christ, in my life and in yours. It takes God through Christ in the Spirit to live out the confession, “I believe in God the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.”

Craig Barnes in his volume on the Heidelberg Catechism shares the wisdom of the ancient theologian, St. Irenaeus of Lyons, who described the relationship of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as with the dad in the so-called Parable of the Prodigal Son in Luke 15, whereby the two arms of the father are the Son and the Holy Spirit, welcoming, embracing, and holding us in His strong arms.

Tim Keller in his The Prodigal God reminds us that prodigal is not at all about coming back  if you are lost, but comes from prodigiousness, reckless extravagance. The reckless love of the father in the parable drives the eldest son crazy and is a soothing healing for the youngest son.  It’s the crazy love of the father in the parable that exhibits the enduring, durable, stubborn, persisting love of God that will not let us go, but abides and abounds, that knows no limits, that will, in fact, come down from  heaven’s gates to put this love into action.

Q/A 26 is about that first article of the Creed, which itself states the primary article of our faith.  God.  And we believe and trust in God the Father solely because of Jesus Christ, God’s Son. The key is Jesus.

What we find in Jesus Christ is the Son whose relationship with the Father, can be described with the common urban rap lingo, “Your word is bond. Bond is life.”

The prodigal God, who created heaven and earth, has set out to fiercely love us. Without limit. Why?

The Catechism sums up the matter:

“God is able to do this because he is almighty God

And desires to do this because he is a faithful Father.”

Thank you, Jesus.  Thanks Daddy.