When our Sunday night YF starts up again at the end of August, we’re going to go through a series looking at some of the stories Jesus told. The problem is, there are such well known stories. Everyone knows them. They know what happens in them. They know how they end.
So I’m trying to reinterpret them. Make them fresh.
The first one is probably the most famous of all. The Prodigal Son. How do you make that story fresh to people who will have heard it many times before? I’ve taken my first stab at it and the results are below. I’m not sure whether it’s enough but it’s a start. I have a couple of weeks to mull it over. Please let me know your thoughts.
Tom sits staring at the text on his phone. Thinking whether to send it or not.
“Dad, I’m sorry. Can I come home?”
He deletes the message and puts the phone back in his pocket. He leans back against the cold hard cement of the building behind him. The sounds of traffic echoes around his ears. A passer-by throws a twenty pence piece into his cup. He’s been living on the street for three weeks now.
Hard to imagine that just four months ago he had everything. Tom lived in a two story penthouse with his dad and sister. He had everything he ever wanted. Clothes, gadgets, good schooling.
But you know what it’s like when you’re a teenager. You want independence. You don’t want your parents supporting you all the time.
So he left home. Well, more than that.
He got into a fight with his dad one night. Told him, he wanted him dead. That he was moving out and he’d never see him again. Told him that he didn’t understand him. He needed to be on his own. Things escalated. Minutes later, Tom was standing over the bloodied and beaten body of his dad. He grabbed some money from the safe his dad had behind a painting in the dining room, and took off.
His dad was inconsolable. Close friends and family told him to forget Tom. That he was a nobody. He’s better off out of his life. His dad disagreed.
Over the next few weeks, Tom’s sister, Tracy looked after her dad. She nursed him back to health. She did everything for him. Anything to make him happy. That’s just what she was like. She’d always been like that. Trying to get her father’s approval through what she did. What she didn’t realise is that she always had his approval. She didn’t need to do anything to get it.
For Tom, the next couple of months were great. He rented a small flat, went out all night and slept all day. He experienced everything he had ever dreamed of. He had it all. Every desire, he filled.
But soon the money ran out. And the friends that he had recently acquired left also. He didn’t have the money to pay for the flat so he was thrown out on to the streets. He had nobody. Just a sleeping bag and his phone.
He thinks back to what it was like a few months ago. He wants to go home.
He takes his phone out again and tries to dial home. But he can’t. He doesn’t deserve that life.
A voice calls out to him.
“Put the phone away”.
He looks up. The tall frame of his dad stands over him. He stares. Not knowing what to do. His dad reaches out a hand.
“It’s time to come home”.
You see, once his dad was able to walk again, he set about looking for his son. He spoke with bar and club owners, shop managers, any contact he had. And they led him to his son. His sister was outraged. Why does he need him? He threw it all away. He doesn’t deserve his father’s attention. She does. She does everything for him.
“But you’ve already got my love Tracy. You don’t need to do all of this. My son needs my love, just as much as you”.
Tracy doesn’t understand. Tom doesn’t understand either.
But he’s glad to be home.