"When his father saw him, his heart was filled with pity and he ran, threw his arms around his son and kissed him" Luke 15:20b

Few of us have not heard the story of Pinocchio. Until Geppetto, the wood carver, was given his hearts desire to have a son, Pinocchio was merely a puppet controlled by strings. Then -- miracle of miracles -- Pinocchio became a real live boy and was free to make choices and decisions on his own. Then off he went, as far from his father as he could get -- until he realized what separation from his father was like. How like the prodigal son. And how like us.

Free will. A scary thing. And yet, like Geppetto, God did not want a world full of puppets. He wanted sons and daughters so He gave us free will, hoping we would cherish a father-son relationship.

The good news for Pinocchio was that Geppetto was there with open arms when he learned how hard life could be separated from his father. And the good news for us is that no matter how far afield we wander, no matter how many foolish choices we make, our Father is always there to welcome us back home .

Loving, forgiving, welcoming Father, forgive us for ever thinking we can survive without you. Thank you for loving us enough to welcome us back when we stray. Amen.

By Madeline, Hastings, NE