Perhaps no chapter of scripture is richer in the extravagant welcome of God than Luke 15. Within this lengthy chapter, three parables are shared. One is about a lost sheep, one about a lost coin, and one about a wayward/lost son. I would encourage you to read these three parables and pay close attention to the response of each!
In the Common English Bible translation, the refrain is “Celebrate with me…what was once lost is now found!” There is an immensity of joy in heaven, and on earth, when that which is far off, or lost, is suddenly found! Just imagine losing your wallet or wedding ring and then finding it!
Perhaps the clearest real life example happened in the hallowed rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous. I remember as a newcomer, a fellow that had been sober for some time who suddenly disappeared from meetings. After a few weeks, he walked back into the room at the start of a meeting and the place erupted with joy. People were excited to see him and when he shared he had relapsed, they simply replied, “Welcome back! We are so glad you are here!” Tears swelled in his eyes as he was fully embraced out of an extravagant welcome. No one beat up on him, or belittled his slip, but instead affirmed that his presence was gift enough, and therefore there was reason to rejoice.
May we continue to cultivate that extravagant welcome not only in our church, but also in our lives. You have been welcomed into the wondrous presence of God who calls you beloved…may we honor that in all of our brothers and sisters as well!