Sermon by Dr. E. Dale Locke

Series: Welcome Home, Week 4   Candlelight Christmas Eve Service

We have been looking at John 1:14 throughout this series that is the axis on which the story of the gospel rest:

“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

  1. What does it mean for Jesus to make his residence near us?

People all through history have been striving to be good enough to get back to God.  But in the scriptures, we have God reaching down to get back to us. This is the incarnate Jesus.

  1. In what ways do you think you been striving to earn a place near God all on your own?

We read in Jesus’ most famous story of the Prodigal Son, the imagery of leaving God the Father and coming back home to Him in Luke 15:11-24,

11 Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. 12 The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.13 “Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. 14 After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. 16 He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.17 “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18 I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ 20 So he got up and went to his father.“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.21 “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’22 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. 24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.

Joe Crouse said, “There is no place like home. Home is an important word but hard to define. When you are home, you should be free.”

  1. The idea of coming home brings up many emotions. What do you think of and feel when you imagine yourself returning to your home?

Pastor Dale explains that coming home is the secret longing that we all have, it is the cry of our hearts. Jesus reminds us that the story of the human race is the story of a runaway and God the Father is waiting for us at home.

We can find ourselves in a few movements towards coming home:

*We can be one who doubts that we want to be home in the first place. We see this in verses 11-13. Perhaps we didn’t get off on the right foot with God. Maybe we have an idea of what God is like or what God does that is an image in our own mind because we haven’t been properly introduced.

  1. What ideas do you have about who God is and how He works that keeps you from wanting to be close to Him?
  2. Who do you know that you can go and talk to about these ideas?

*We can be one who doubts that home will take him back. We are aware of what our decisions have brought us to, how we have messed up and want to go home, but not sure if God will want us back now. Jesus tells us in this story  how the Father is scanning the horizon waiting, watching, wanting his child to return to him.

  1. What do you think keeps you from going to God with your hurts and struggles?
  2. How do you think God will respond if you tell Him what he already knows and eagerly wants you still?

*We can be one who wants go home and needs to remember how to get back, verse 21. We have to do our part, open our hearts and invite Him in. We are aware and need to admit to Him that we are not worthy, we have sinned, and we are sorry. When we say to God that we want to live close to Him, the parable shows us that God says, “Let’s Celebrate! Put on a robe and ring and let’s have a feast together! At last, my child is home!”

8. Have you told your Father that you want to come home yet? If you have, when did you ask and how did God       welcome you?

9. How does it make you feel to be truly wanted, long awaited for, and a reason for grand and pure celebration?

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