The parable of the Prodigal Son is one of the best known and best loved Bible stories. The ELCA’s 2009 churchwide assembly included an installation of an extensive collection of works of art inspired by the story of the parable of the prodigal son that are the subject of a book by Lutheran church musician Jerry Evenrud.
The beauty of this story is the way it holds up for us the pig headedness of both the selfish and the self-righteous. The younger, prodigal brother wastes his father’s gifts chasing after unworthy pursuits in foreign lands, and only comes home when forced to by hunger and deprivation. The older, prideful brother pig-headedly refuses to celebrate the return of a member of his own family – so focused is he on asserting his own righteousness.
There’s something in this story for everyone. Whether we are the ones surprised by God’s amazing grace, or the ones who can’t imagine that we need such a thing as grace, the power of this parable comes from the realization that God’s concerns are so much larger than ours. God is less focused on who gets to eat the fatted calf, and more concerned with how to get all the pig headed children to eat at the same table!