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Sehnsucht

• Greg Boyd

In the story of the Prodigal Son, the son leaves home and experiences intensely that something is missing. Eventually he comes to his senses and goes home to his father. Greg connected this desire that the son felt to the German word sehnsucht which is a powerful form of longing that we all feel at times in our lives.

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In the story of the Prodigal Son, the son leaves his father, takes his inheritance, squanders it all and finds himself empty and in exile. He experiences intensely that something is missing. Eventually he comes to his senses and goes home to his father. Greg connected this desire/longing for something that the son felt to the German word sehnsucht which is a powerful form of longing that we all feel at times in our lives. In fact, we are all like the Prodigal Son in that we are separated from God. We get glimpses of something just beyond our reach that draws us—something transcendent and beyond our understanding. Each of us has this evoked in us in different ways. Greg presented some art and music that evokes sehnsucht for him. In moments when sehnsucht is experienced we long for something that nature itself does not supply. We long for God. Greg’s challenge to us was that we need to come to our senses—wake up—and make our back home. God’s call comes to each of us in different ways, but “home” is the same for us all. These sehnsucht moments point toward God’s grace in Jesus Christ. We sense intensely that something is missing… that missing thing is our need for God’s grace and presence in our lives. God comes to us through Jesus Christ. The separation we feel from God is bridged for us in the resurrection. The sehnsucht moments are God’s way of drawing us home. Death, frustration, emptiness, insignificance, sin, sickness, pain, etc. do not have the last word. God has the last word and that word is Life, Joy, Love, Peace, Salvation. Our part is to confess our sin and repent. God’s promise is that if we do this, God will forgive us our sin and cleanse us.

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Topics: Forgiveness, Repentance, Salvation


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Focus Scripture:

  • Luke 15:14-18

    After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.

    “When he came to his senses, he said, 'How many of my father's hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.

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