Billy was five years old and was so excited when his mother came home from the hospital with Billy’s new brother. Billy had wanted a brother for a long time. Nothing could have been more wonderful. But things weren’t working out quite like Billy had imagined. Everyone was fascinated with the new baby. This new arrival got all the attention, all the love, of the family. It seemed to Billy there was none left for him. The walls of his little world were beginning to crumble.
Billy couldn’t do anything right. If he left the door open, it was, “Billy close the door, the draft will give the baby a cold.” When he closed the door, it was “Billy, don’t slam the door – you will wake the baby.” So, he did the only thing a five year old can do when no one loves him, when there was no room left for him at home. He ran away. Not far, of course, just into the pine trees behind his house. In the cold and dark he began to cry at how alone he was, not unlike the bleating of a lost sheep.
After a while he heard noises moving in the brush. An animal! Must be a bear or a lion or worse, heaven knows! Scared to death, he tried to hide himself under the branches, but the noisy footsteps got closer and closer. And then there was the voice. “Billy…Billy.” The voice was familiar – it belonged to his grandmother. She had missed him and realized he was gone. She alone knew exactly where he had gone. Drawing back the branches, she pulled him into her embrace and held him. Finally she spoke: “Billy, it’s time for dinner. It’s time to come home.”
According to Jesus, this is the good news, that God is like that. God searches for us in all our hiding places whether we have just wandered off or are intentionally trying to hide. God’s search is risky and relentless, well, because supper can’t be served until all the family is there, until everyone the child at the zoo or the one named Billy has been found and brought home. And there is joy before the angels of God.
I have no idea where this came from originally. Even so, it will end my sermon tomorrow.