||Elder Brother - Another "missing" person
Another Missing Person of the Family Homecoming Party
(The Word for Word Bible Story: Luke 15:11-32)
The Prodigal: "It's quite a party for me. But...Where is my elder brother? Is he still in his favorite place--the fields?"
The Father: "He should be here by now, but I don't see him! You... enjoy your party. Stay here and I'll go and look for him."
The Father talked to his elder son's servant, went outside and found his older son. The elder brother was bitter. He accused his father..."I never had a party given for me. I didn't have a fattened calf, or even a goat, reserved for me--ever...You didn't even send for me first when my brother came home! And you had to give him a special ring!"
The father pleaded with his son to try to persuade him to be happy too. He explained the reasons for any objections.
The outcome of this story is left for our reasoning to complete.
This loving Father would have persisted and would have "waited" for this son IN THE WAY HE NEEDED IT, as well.
He pleaded, "Can't you look at me, my son? You are not so hurt as to run away too, are you? You won't run away to a far country, like your brother, would you? You won't be "missing" to me emotionally by running away into yourself either, would you? Don't hide your thoughts and emotions from me! Do I have to wait for years for you too to come back to me--to give you, in your turn, a special party?
You know,... your younger brother was wondering where you were and when you would come to his party. He said he wanted to greet you so much."
Then the Father managed to send a servant to get the younger brother. But the younger brother arrived before the servant left to fetch him. He had asked and asked about where his older brother and his father might be.
The younger brother greeted the older one, "Hello, my dear brother. I haven't seen you in such a long time. Come and join the party. But first tell me about you and what has happened since I left to seek my foolish fortune."
The older brother blurted out, "Do you really want to know? Why would you want me at your party anyway? Everybody talks about you...you...you. Never about me. And Dad likes you better than me, any day!"
"Oh, dear brother, you are hurting! You should know, the party is very nice, but it certainly is not complete without YOU. Come on....You are Dad's beloved son as much as I am...the one he talks about constantly...the one he praises to me and to everyone else! Don't you hear him when he does? And besides,...think about this...Dad is the type of person who even invites the poor, even the one with sores, who lie in front of our house, with the sores that only a dog would lick clean. He would invite them to come and eat at our table after cleaning them up, wouldn't he? He regularily asks travellers to join us and find rest here. He has welcomed orphans and is like a father to them. He hired widows to work for him and didn't just give them a handout. He has sent our servants out to look for those that did not fit in on the byways so they would not be needy. Think about it...wouldn't a man like that welcome his very own son even more? I now know he does." The young man couldn't stop his eyes becoming moist. "I know now, that he would be very, very sad, if YOU, who always honoured him, decided to miss out on our family life, not just this party. Look at me and listen. I found that out the hard way. I had to swallow my foolish pride many years after I should have! I waited only because I thought I was worthless, worth less than the 'lowest' in our father's household. Worth less than anyone with these sores. Worth less, because I stooped so low in my life. Dear brother, let Father and I love you now."
The Father: "Son, please understand, before I was very preoccupied. You know I had a good life, but we had NO party at all! I delegated all my work and waited at the road.
Now however life is different. Why don't we just give a party for you soon--a party for you and your friends--different and great for YOU. You are an outdoor type and have loved the fields, the smells of the fields, the seeds, the plants, the harvest, the smell of the fragrance of LIFE.
Can YOU help me plan? Please think about what special presents YOU would like? What would you like to eat at Your party? How would You like to dress? What music do You want? And what dancing? How and where would You like to set Your table? What servants would You like to help at the party? Whom would You like to invite?
We can make sure to invite many. Yes, many more than at this short notice party. I suggest we have it outside in the cool of the evening in the fragrant gardens....instead of inside....And instead of a ring, I would like to give you a special necklace.
The father added that, years earlier, in his wisdom, he had only divided "the property" when the younger son left, and had kept back what the younger son had declared "useless inheritance." Now, finally, he could give the younger brother items from "his remaining inheritance". Clothes and sandals... "There is, of course, one very special heirloom for each of YOU." He pointed to his ringless finger and to the new owner's finger. "The ring was always to be your brother's. A unique and priceless jewel is in the ring--a jewel that has reminded us of wisdom for generations in our family." And did he know that his special family heirloom necklace was the one that Father was always wearing? It always reminded the Father of loyalty and faithfulness. The necklace's story was to be repeated over and over and written upon any new bearer's heart. (See Proverbs 3:3) Father repeated that anything of his really belonged to the elder brother too. (And what was exclusively the father's now? Not the property....hadn't that just been in his trust, since it had been divided long ago.)
The Father continued: "What you don't know is that I looked after both your interests all these years. I asked for favours for both of you in a just way. My youngest, when you left and sold all your property, I was sad, but I did have lots of time to think. I negotiated options with the buyers after the fact! I negotiated that you could buy back the property--your inheritance--for an agreed upon good terms price. And look,... the guests all brought gold rings and silver as a welcome back presents--it's almost enough to buy back your inheritance! That does remind me of God-praising Job--when he was finally well again. His friends and his brothers and sisters gave him such presents and he became more blessed than ever before."
The Father and the younger brother put all the proofs of love before the older brother. The Father gave the older brother his heart-felt blessing and the brother gave his--his brotherly blessing. He even offered to share with him "his" ring. And...you know... they still gave him free choice.
The father continued, "Remember, don't just wait for detailed blessings, but ask for them actively now, since you know of what "moves" me, ...your loving Father." The older brother did hear that he could ask for a fattened goat or anything else he needed and wanted. He learned that the Father wanted to be asked. He learned that the Father wanted him to feel lovable and at peace. His father did not want to hear,
"You (and your friends) will look for me, but you won’t find me."
Me buscarán y no me encontrarán. - Spanish
Neither did his father want to hear,
Vocês vão me procurar e não me encontrarão. - Portuguese
"You (and your friends) can’t go where I’m going?" John 7:36
Donde iré ustedes no pueden ir. - Spanish
Did he really have to go through his own extra valley of darkness first to come to "his senses" in order to look for his loving Father too? What do YOU think?
Não podem ir aonde eu vou. - Portuguese
Father, we ask in the name of Your Son, Jesus Christ, about situations where we think we haven't been treated as well as others. We would like to be needed, honoured, acknowledged etc. Help us accept YOUR wonderful free gifts and talents that were freely given. Help children work out sibling rivalries. Let there be forgiveness, even years later. Show us how to appreciate our differences now. Let us forgive our parents for real or "imagined" favoritism and let us find ways to heal sibling wounds. Heal the wounds. Comfort parents who sometimes wait years for their children to know that they are loved each for themselves. And...we put before you parents that sin and love one child better than the any other.
Lord, we put before you situations where a "relative" is missing from a feast. A missing relative or friend at a wedding, a birthday party, a special occasion, a graduation, an office party, at Christmas, etc.
Lord, bless mediators, the peacemakers, those you mourn, those who set justice in motion, those who are inclusive, those that forgive, those that pray, those that pray for persecutors, bless those "parents" that never give up, all those that find themselves in difficult situations of being taken for granted, and all those who deal with people who suffer inferiority feelings.
Lord, help people who are "the catalyst" of jealosy in situations. Help to diffuse the jealosy with justice.
Help all who deal with feelings of "I didn't do anything." or "I didn't cause this!" by becoming pro-active. Help them deal with the real Causes of the jealousy.