American Epidemic

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Synopsis of American Epidemic

We’re about to slice a piece of the bread of life, the word of God.

The title of today’s message is …. “American Epidemic” No… I’m not talking a virus as we know it ….. although one definition of virus is…. “moral taint”  or  “corrupting influence” In other words…..  We are wasters….    Tax collectors and other notorious sinners often came to listen to Jesus teach. This made the Pharisees and teachers of religious law complain that he was associating with such despicable people – even eating with them! So Jesus used three illustrations:   parables of lost sheep, lost coin, prodigal son, to show why it was the right thing to do. And so today’s slice of the bread of life comes from  the parable of the prodigal son. So now…  IF YOU KNOW THIS PASSAGE WELL ENOUTH –SKIP IT….

11  To illustrate the point further, Jesus told them this story: “A man had two sons. The younger son told his father, ‘i want my share of your estate now, instead of waiting until you die.’ so his father agreed to divide his wealth between his sons.”a few days later this younger son packed all his belongings and took a trip to a distant land, and there he wasted all his money on wild living. 14  about the time his money ran out, a great famine swept over the land, and he began to starve. He persuaded a local farmer to hire him to feed his pigs. The boy became so hungry that even the pods he was feeding the pigs looked good to him. But no one gave him anything. 17  “when he finally came to his senses, he said to himself, ‘at home even the hired men have food enough to spare, and here I am, dying of hunger! I will go home to my father and say, “father, I have sinned against both heaven and you,  and I am no longer worthy of being called your son. Please take me on as a hired man.” ‘ 20  “so he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long distance away, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him. His son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son.’ 22  “But his father said to the servants, ‘quick! Bring the finest robe in the house and put it on him.  Get a ring for his finger, and sandals for his feet.  And kill the calf we have been fattening in the pen. We must celebrate with a feast,  for this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found.’ so the party began. 25  “Meanwhile, the older son was in the fields working. When he returned home, he heard music and dancing in the house, and he asked one of the servants what was going on. Your brother is back,’ he was told, ‘and your father has killed the calf we were fattening and has prepared a great feast. We are celebrating because of his safe return.’ 28  “The older brother was angry and wouldn’t go in. His father came out and begged him,  but he replied, ‘all these years I’ve worked hard for you and never once refused to do a single thing you told me to. And in all that time you never gave me even one young goat for a feast with my friends. Yet when this son of yours comes back after squandering your money on prostitutes, you celebrate by killing the finest calf we have.’  31  “His father said to him, ‘look, dear son, you and I are very close, and everything I have is yours. We had to celebrate this happy day. For your brother was dead and has come back to life! He was lost, but now he is found!’ “

Folks, we live in a world where the concept of fairness is nearly elevated to a level of worship. If you live with or work with little children  then you’ll recognize that most squabbles erupt from this old emotion of feeling somehow slighted  mistreated. “He got a tablespoon more ice cream than I did. Not fair!”  –  “Why does she get to stay up half-hour later than I do?” – “Not fair!” – “She got to sit in the front seat last time. It’s not fair that I always have to sit in the back.”  “Sally’s curfew is 1:30. Why do I have to be home at midnight? “

To be an effective parent in the twenty-first century then you might consider enrolling in law school first.

A parent needs the wisdom of a judge and the memory of an elephant. Wisdom to hand down rulings on a moment’s notice and a memory to recall past court cases so that at least a sense of fairness might be distributed to all parties involved. If you think we outgrow this obsession with fairness, think again. It’s as old as eden and so deeply imbedded in our  marrow that most people take it to the grave.

I’ve always enjoyed the story about the high-school student who asked his father to help him write a composition on how wars start. “Well, now, let” suppose we got into a quarrel with Canada,” he father began.  “That”s ridiculous,” his mother interrupted. “Why should we quarrel with Canada?”  “That’s beside(s) the point,” her husband said, “I was merely using an example…..”   “If you had an ounce of brains you wouldn”t make such stupid example” replied the mother.

“Who do you think you’re talking to?” Shouted the father. “I want to teach my son….”    “Your son!” the mother screamed. “I suppose I had nothing to do with his being here. You just found him someplace…”

The boy interrupted……  “Please, folks, forget it. I just figured it out for myself.”

And that brings to mind…..       A young mother and her little boy were driving down the street. The little boy asked, “Mommy, why do the idiots only come out when daddy drives?”

According to the dictionary, the word “prodigal” is an adjective that means “recklessly wasteful.” “Prodigal” is derived from the Latin word prodigere, which is translated as the verb meaning “to squander.” Therefore, a prodigal son is literally a wasteful son, one who throws away opportunities recklessly and wastefully.  The younger son in this famous parable is “recklessly wasteful.” . He is one of the most famous rogues in the entire bible. In our soap opera imaginations we can read between the lines and pencil in all the sordid ways he must have wasted his inheritance. He had a good case of the “gimmee’s.” “give me the share of the property that will belong to me.” He takes the money and blows it on “degenerate living.” the story actually doesn’t go into detail here about what such immoral living entails but a vast panorama of options stands before a wasteful young man with a pocketful of change.

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