Rev. Dr. Grace Imathiu of Kenya led The Thursday morning Bible Study. Dr. Imathiu is an in-demand preacher and Bible study teacher who has preached and taught on six continents. Before she began her lesson on the “Parable of the Prodigal Son,” she shared a bit of her history with the World Methodist Conference. Her parents had each had profound experiences in at previous WMC meetings to the point that her family began to refer to the WMC gatherings as “dangerous places.”
She referred to the theme of the conference, One, and reminded the audience that Christ calls us to be one in Him. John Wesley’s sermon on Catholic Spirit calls us to be one. Grace extolled that we are one not because we all agree but because we all have one Father.
The Bible study was of Luke 15. Eight readers joined Grace; each read a section of the text in their own language. Audience members were asked to stand as their language was spoken: German, Yoruba, Hindi, Spanish, Rumanian, Swahili, English and Kimeru.
Grace shared a poem from her friend who lamented the practice of labeling works with a title because the titles can limit our understanding of a piece of poetry, prose or art. Grace suggested the title, Parable of the Prodigal Son, leads to misinterpretation.
She declares the story is not about the son but about the father. Jesus is painting a picture of God for us:
- God, the Father, who yearns for us,
- A Father whose heart is broken when we separate from Him,
- A Father who will run to us to protect us from harm,
- A Father that will cover us in His best robe,
- A Father who spreads an extravagant meal and invites us to the table.