Allow me to head off the beaten path for a moment this weekend. The Gospel parable of the prodigal son is quite well known, and has surely been reflected on many thousands of times – from the meaning of the word “prodigal” itself (spending money or resources freely and recklessly; wastefully extravagant), to attempting to discern which of the people in the story (the prodigal son, the father, the brother) we most identify with…
But my main experience with the story of the prodigal son comes from musical theater. Liturgical composer Rory Cooney wrote a show many years ago titled “Lost and Found,” based on this passage. I had the privilege in 2008 of assisting at a summer camp called Youth Sing Praise that was putting on this show, where my role was to craft the retreat portion of the week – helping form the prayer services and activities that would enable the teens there for the week to truly enter into and live this production.
I pondered the title of that show, “Lost and Found,” quite a lot in the months leading up to that week. Then, eventually, it hit me – the name was “Lost AND Found” – not OR, not BUT, not THEN, but “Lost AND Found.”
And. Not one or the other but both at the same time. Both lost and found. The structure of the week came quickly to me after that.
We spent our week praying over examples of Christian paradox: two concepts that are only able to exist simultaneously within the mysteries of our faith. For instance:
• The last shall be first, and the first last
• For in our weakness is strength
• In dying we are born to eternal life
…and several more as well. I urge you, right now, to take a few moments to ponder in your heart some of the paradoxes of your own faith life – are there mysteries in your own relationship with God that you just can’t figure out? How is your faith unique to just you but still part of the larger Church community? Do you struggle with when to offer others mercy and when to enact justice? How is it that our salvation has been accomplished by Christ but is not yet fully with us? Do you have difficulties recognizing both Christ’s humanity and divinity?
Critically, right now, ponder this: How we are, this Lenten season, saved sinners – both “Lost and Found.” Enjoy, embrace the paradox.
PS – For more about Rory Cooney and “Lost and Found,” visit: http://rorycooney.blogspot.com/2013/03/all-your-children-lost-and-found.html