This week’s Gospel is usually called the parable of the prodigal son and focuses on the forgiveness of the father (symbolizing God) for the son. However, the complete passage can better be called the parable of the two sons, according to Harvard’s Helmut Koester. Today’s project is in two parts.
First, think of yourself as the prodigal son. In the Gospel, he wants to confess to his father but his father forgives him without the confession. Make a simple drawing of yourself kneeling to confess. For inspiration you can Google “prodigal son,” but here’s one I really like. Then write around you (or inside of the drawing) what it is you feel you need to confess to God or the things you need to get out of you in order to be reconciled with God. This is one of those times where watercolor pencils are especially handy.
To finish the traditional understanding of the parable, you have to realize that God forgives you. To do this artistically, you can blur the letters if you used watercolor pencils or use another medium like paint or crayons to make the confessions disappear. Then write, “You are forgiven.” If you want, you can draw God’s arms embracing you like the father embracing the prodigal.
Second, you’re going to become the brother. Ask yourself why he couldn’t forgive his brother. Then ask yourself why you have a hard time forgiving other people. Flip over your picture and record these on the back side. Then commit yourself to trying to forgive others as the father (God) forgave you.
Personal theological note: I don’t believe forgiving requires forgetting or reconciliation. There are times where forgiving someone is a step in your personal healing, but re-entering a relationship with the person may do more harm than good. Domestic violence would be one of those situations.