We usually think of the story Jesus tells in Luke 15 as 'the prodigal son,' I like to think of it as the story of 'the loving father' instead.
We know the drill, son takes off in a huff with his dad's money, gets a job in a hog pen, realizes it's stupid, comes back home, father accepts him back into the family, throws him a party, his brother is ticked off, the end.
Sometimes we can look at this story, and lose ourselves in the order of events. Sometimes, in an attempt to behave like the loving father we put the events in the wrong order.
See, there is a huge problem with parties...by themselves.
Before the party is thrown, the father welcomes the son back into the house. Back into the family. The party does not take the son out of the hog pen, out of the pit, that has already happened.
If you skip that step...if you try to bypass the restoration back into the family, back into the house, back into the positive system, back into the revived & renewed relationship...back into that healthy environment that you've created away from that destructive one...
If you skip that step, and people go straight into the party...when the party is over...where do they go next? Right back into the pit. The hog pen. The hell you took them out of in the first place.
They don't come into the house.
Parties are worthless if everything goes back to normal as soon as they are over.
There needs to be the better life, the restored relationship, the new system, a removal of the dysfunction before the party occurs; so there is actually something worth celebrating.
The party is a celebration of something new, not a brief interruption before you are sent back to the same crap.