ISSUES OF FAITH: The prodigal son is welcomed home

THE CHURCH OF Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is unique in what you might find at a weekly worship service; what we call sacrament meeting.

Each week, two or three members of the congregation are invited in advance to prepare a talk on a gospel subject, centered around Jesus Christ. We all contribute our thoughts and testimonies.

As the bishop of our ward, what you might call the parish or congregation, I get the opportunity to speak a little more often, but you won’t hear from me weekly or even monthly necessarily.

One of the things that I enjoy about this kind of Sunday meeting is that no two people are alike. You could give every member of the congregation the same subject and they would give a slightly different talk.

We all have unique experiences. I love hearing how the gospel has influenced others and how they are learning on their path back to Heavenly Father.

When I hear people speak in our sacrament meeting, I may forget a scripture that they shared or a quote that they repeated, but I usually remember personal stories that they shared.

Jesus Christ was the master teacher. We can learn a lot from the way he would teach. He often taught in parables. A parable is a simple story from which you can draw a lot of meaning and lessons. Stories are easy to remember. Even children can remember simple stories and learn from them.

One of my favorite parables that Jesus taught is the prodigal son.

It is a story about a son who decides he wants to leave home and do his own thing. He asks his father for his inheritance and departs. He makes some bad choices and squanders everything he has. Then a famine hits the land.

Eventually, he found himself taking a job feeding pigs. He was so hungry that he was envious of the food that he was giving to the pigs.

He realized the error of his ways, and thought of his home and his father, who likely had enough bread to spare. So he decides to return home.

He plans on asking his father to allow him to be a servant. But when he was still a long way from home, his father saw him.

The father had compassion for him and ran to him, “and fell on his neck, and kissed him.”

The son said that he was not worthy to be called his son anymore. But the father puts the best robe on him, shoes on his feet, and has a feast with music, saying “My son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost and is found.”

Growing up, I could relate to the son, thinking of how I had been rebellious, and how our Father in Heaven had compassion on me and welcomed me back when I was ready to return.

Now, as a father, I can relate to the father in the parable as well as the son. I know from the love that I have for my children, that though they might make bad decisions, which would make me sad, and it would be painful for me to see them suffer in their life because of their bad choices, ultimately, I would always welcome them back home.

When we turn our lives to our Heavenly Father, He will always run to us with compassion and embrace us.

We may have done things in our life for which we need to repent, but that does not affect the unconditional love of our Father in Heaven.

The parable of the prodigal son teaches this eternal truth beautifully, and in a way that is easy to remember.

Through the grace of God and the Atonement of His Son Jesus Christ, our mistakes and sins can be forgiven as we turn our lives towards God, and return in humility.

_________

Issues of Faith is a rotating column by religious leaders on the North Olympic Peninsula. Bishop Jason Bringhurst is the leader of the Mount Pleasant Ward of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Port Angeles. His email is jasonbring@gmail.com.

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