“Ernest Hemingway once wrote a short story set in Spain, in which a father and son fell out with one another. The son ran away to Madrid, so the father disowned him in disgust, and said he didn’t want anything more to do with him. Years later, the father realised he’d been too harch, and how much he missed his son. So he put an advert in a Madrid newspaper, ‘Paco, meet me at the Hotel Montana at noon on Tuesday. All is forgiven. Papa.’ But Paco is a common name in Spain, and when the father turned up at the hotel at noon on Tuesday, hoping that his son would be there, he had to force his way through the crowd of young men waiting outside the hotel, all named Paco, and all longing to be reconciled with their fathers.” [Source: ‘Spicing Up Your Speaking’, Simon Coupland (2000); he cites Philip Yancey, ‘True Confessions’ (Word, 1987).Paco’s story is a bit like ours – with one exception. Paco’s dad disowned him. But God hasn’t disowned us, ever. There is nothing for God to regret. We were the ones who wanted to be free of him. But, like Paco’s dad, God is the one who wrote the letter saying, ‘Meet me… all is forgiven.’ John writes, “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!” (1 John 3:1-3). In spite of everything we have done – neglected, disrespected, ignored, disobeyed, mocked, doubted, despised – God longs for us, and when we return, treats us as his treasured children. All is forgiven.
All we need to do is ask him. Psalm 34:1-10, 22 assures us, “The Lord will rescue his servants;? no one who takes refuge in him will be condemned.” No one. The Apostle John was given a glimpse of the truth; and he saw “a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb.” (Revelation 7:9-17).
Today we welcome guest speaker Sarah Gover, Anglicare Victoria’s Community Development Officer, who oversees ‘mainly music’ groups across Gippsland, and is responsible for organising several ‘schoolies’ trips to Rwanda.