December 23, 2014 by John Nicholas Prassas
I got in fights, dissed teachers, teased classmates, threw berries at cars and even got sent home in 3rd grade (twice!), once for (allegedly) cussing at a kid on clean-up duty and again for giving my mom’s jewelry to my playground girlfriends.
Later, I used a cheat-sheet to pass my confirmation class at church, then proceeded to crash into a house on Halloween night during a drunken car chase with police, as a junior in high school. And there would be more.
So when I read Jesus’ parable of the Prodigal Son, no one has to tell me which character to identify with.
I’ve been a mess and I’ve been forgiven much by family, friends and God Almighty.
This is why my lip quivers and my eyes get misty when I think about The Father’s reception – and total restoration – of the bad son who comes home.
The Father’s immediate impulse is to clothe the stinky, shameful son in the finest robe they can find at his estate and slip a family ring onto his grimy finger.
The Father’s actions said, in effect, “I don’t see you for who you are or how you’ve been, I see you for who you’re meant to be!”
Jesus said anyone who receives him – even receives him by faith – is received and forgiven and totally restored by the Father, and is spiritually adopted into his family and kingdom.
That’s how I got the robe and the ring, my favorite ‘Christmas gifts’ of all time!
Yes, they’re invisible, just like the crown I got as part of the same deal.
This is where the wonder of childlike faith comes into play – at Christmas, and every day we dare to believe…
Jesus was born with an invisible crown, but it was real enough to cause the prophets, shepherds and heavens to rejoice and an evil king to kill innocent babies.
And it’s real enough for us to wear with pride and joy as heavenly gifts from our good and perfect Father.
So Merry Christmas to you and yours, and be sure to wear all your invisible gifts throughout the new year!
Thank you Father that you call us to exercise childlike faith and receive your amazing gifts through Jesus Christ your son, the reason we celebrate this wonderful season. Amen!