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Return of the prodigal son (3 February)

Image – Return of the Prodigal Son, Stephanie Frostad. Used with permission.


This weeks thought is written by Revd Graeme Ross , EBA Regional Minister

A few weeks ago, a church asked me if I could produce a sermon that they could use in their service on Valentine’s Day and I felt inspired to use the parable of the Prodigal son as the focal point for this. In looking for images as a part of my preparation, I got in touch with the artist Stephanie Frostad to ask permission to use pictures of some of her paintings and as well as giving permission, she was kind enough to email images of the full set of paintings that she has produced around this parable. I am very grateful for her permission to also share this image in this Thought for the Week (you will have to watch the sermon on our YouTube channel to see the others).

The picture that intrigued me the most was this one. I had previously spotted it in a google search but had discounted it, assuming it had been incorrectly tagged, as it didn’t appear to have anything to do with the prodigal’s return.

If you look closely, you can see the son being welcomed home in the background (just to the right of the cow’s nose) and a little further forward to the right you can also see the older brother coming towards the calf to take it away to be slaughtered as a part of the celebration of the prodigal’s return. The main subject of the painting though is the cow and her calf, sitting peacefully in a field unaware of the tragedy that is about to befall them. For any of us who eat meat, there will be be nothing shocking about a calf being slaughtered to provide food for a celebration, for us it seems normal but from the cow and the calf’s perspective this is a very, very sad story.

As I look at the calf in this picture, I can’t help but think of Jesus who was willing to be nailed to a cross as a sacrifice so that that the way to God could be opened for us all for all eternity. Jesus is God and his value is beyond comprehension and calculation and yet he was willing to lay his life down to save us all and God the father was willing for his one and only son to give his life as a sacrifice.

A few thoughts:

  • In our celebartion of God’s love and acceptance, we can sometimes lose our focus on the centrality of the sacrifice of Jesus. How can we continually remind ourselves that Jesus is our Saviour? What is an appropriate response to this?
  • In the story of our faith journey, we often see ourselves, rather than Jesus as the central character. How can we keep Jesus at the centre of this story?
  • In our Christian walk, we can mistakenly think that we have to earn God’s love or be good enough for his approval. Is your relationship with God based primarily on duty or on love?

If you would like to make use of the ‘Prodigal Son’ sermon on Valentine’s day or any other Sunday, you can stream it from our YouTube channel. Nick has also recently added a sermon ‘Patience – a spiritual fruit in a time of pandemic’ and other sermons and Easter resources will be following in the next few weeks and months.  Don’t forget that you can subscribe to the channel if you want to receive notifications when new videos are added. The ‘Prodigal Son’ sermon is also avaiilable to download through this link

As a Regional Team, we are continually grateful for your prayers

I am preaching at Renew this Sunday. Beth and Nick will be worshipping in one of our churches.

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