The season of Lent is a time of reflection and preparation. It is a time to look inward, acknowledging our nature, and the many ways we have fallen short of living and loving the way in which we are called. This week, we will reflect together on how well we have been practicing acceptance.

The Oxford Dictionary defines “acceptance” as “the fact of being received as suitable, valid, or adequate” or “a favorable reception; approval; favor.” We are a people and a church called to practice acceptance, both of ourselves and of others. Our ability to be accepting flows out of God’s acceptance of us, for God loves us wholly and completely. God knitted us together in our mothers’ wombs and we are “fearfully and wonderfully made,” as the Psalmist tells us. In fact, no matter how many mistakes we make, no matter how poorly we treat God or others, there is nothing we can do that would make us unacceptable in God’s sight. God’s love never fails.

Read Luke 15:11-32. What do you notice about the story? In my reading, I’m struck how much planning the prodigal son does before he returns home; he has thought through what he’ll say and how he’ll make his apology. While he knows just what he wants to say, he never even gets close enough to speak before his father runs to him with arms wide open. You see, his father was already watching for him. His eyes were already scanning the horizon, waiting and hoping for the return of his beloved son.

So it is with God. We may turn away from God, but God never turns away from us. When we are ready to turn back, God is already there waiting to welcome us home with open arms, for God knows our hearts and accepts us exactly as we are. I wonder… do we find it so easy to forgive ourselves?