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jesus the radical pastor | exploring the life and mission of the 1st century Jesus for our 21st century


 In 1953 a father had two daughters* in their early twenties. The twenty-two year old one said to her dad, “You’ve got money invested for me. I know. And I can’t wait ’til you die. Cash it in now and give it to me.”

The dad did just that. This younger daughter traveled to New York City and lived in Greenwich Village, meeting new bohemian friends, going to poetry readings, art shows and avante gard plays. She explored the endless joys of the human body with men and women alike. She was known as the life of the party…until she got the disease. Her money ran out; her “friends” faded out like music at the end of a sad song. Soon she found herself delirious and lying emaciated on a dirty gurney in a ramshackled free clinic.

“God, what’s happening to me?” Crying and  lonely, she whispered to no one, “Am I dying? Oh, damn, am I going to die?” Her mind like a scared little bird flitted around. ”Dad’s stupid dogs have it better’n me. He takes so good care of everything…Oh God, if I just had the guts, I’d get out of here, go home and admit to dad that I am nothing.” She quietly cried. “I am nada. Zip. I’m a total wreck.” 

She did get out. And scraping up some pennies, nickels and dimes, she got a one-way Greyhound bus ticket to Stanleyville, Ohio.

She got off the bus and without her knowing it, an old high school friend saw her. The whole small town knew her “story.” The friend called the dad. Weary from the bus ride and clutching her paisley bag, she started walking toward her street for home.

Scaring her witless, the loud horn of a big black Cadillac stretch limo blared. She turned to see her dad jump out and run to her. He was crying and laughing at the same time. He grabbed her, hugged her and kissed all over her head as she stammered, “Daddy, I…, I am so sorr….” Pulling her into the plush back seat of the limo, her dad yelled to the driver, “James, take us to Cleveland now! Honey, we’re going to get you some new clothes and new shoes.” Fumbling in his pockets, he got some keys, “Here. These are for you. They’re keys to a red Corvette. Chevy has just come out with them. You’ll love it, Babe. Oh, I just can’t take my eyes off of you!”

“But Daddy, I am…I did some…”

“James, call the  country club in Stanleyville. Tell Franco to pull out the stops. I want the best for my girl. Call WCPR and invite the town. We are going to have a big parrr-dee!”

“But, Dad…I…I….”

“Sweetie, you look so beautiful…”

Later, dressed like a movie star, she and her dad drove up to the country club in her new Corvette. They walked arm in arm into the large banquet room. People were everywhere, and the smells of prime rib and seasoned food filled the room. Some folks were shocked to see her and they were gossiping behind her back. Her dad shouted, “She’s home, people! And she’s mine!” The gossiping stopped right then and there, never to be heard again.

Then her older sister made her slithering entrance. Dressed in funeral black and hanging on the arm of the dashing junior vice-president of the town’s biggest bank. The sister avoided her and hung in the crowd casting scornful, even hateful looks her way. Finally her sister came over to the father.

“Daddy, you really, really disgust me. This…this tramp of yours…just look at her. God, she looks sick. I bet its gonnorhea. Clothes and shoes and make-up can’t hide the fact that she is a gutter whore. And Corvette?! You never bought me a Corvette. I’ve been a faithful daughter. I went to college. I’ve got a good job. Me and Richard are engaged…and he’s Methodist just like you and Mother. What has gotten into you? This all sickens me…and Richard here. Right, Richard?” Shrieking a little louder, “Right, Richard?!” Richard, embarrassed and silent, looked down at his shoes, avoiding the father’s happy eyes.

The father said, “Aw, c’mon, Honey, you can have a Corvette. I didn’t know you wanted one. You kept talking about that Rambler you wanted. I got that blue one for you. Remember? But, your sister, I…, we thought she was dead. And she’s not! And she came home. She’s here. We had to celebrate…big time. Come on, Honey, join the fun. Your sister’s home. Dance with me.” Silence.

“Dance with me.”

* * * * * * *

* I am grateful to Jesus for prompting this story because it is based on his original in Luke 15.

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