Cristallea Kang Buchanan

March 23, 2022

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                     Luke 15:11-31 tells the story of the prodigal son.

I have heard many sermons on this parable and all of them focused on the prodigal son. The lesson taught was if sinners like the prodigal son repent and return to God, he will run and welcome us back with a feast to celebrate. I always felt a little sorry for the older son until I read Timothy Keller’s different take in his book, The Prodigal Son.

When the father asks the older son why he was not happy for the return of his younger brother, the pride and malignity of his nature is revealed.  He dwells upon his obedient life and service to his father, and believes he deserves to be shown more favor than his younger brother who has just returned. The true reason for not following in the younger’s path is because he believed a bigger profit or blessing was to be accrued from a circumspect life. He plainly shows had he been in his father’s shoes he would not have received the prodigal.

Yet the father deals tenderly with him.

The elder son represents the self-righteous believers who look upon others with contempt and judgement. They are not working in love but in hope of a reward.

In the parable the father’s word to the elder son was heaven’s tender appeal to the Pharisees. “All that I have is thine” – not as wages, but as a gift.  We cannot earn God’s love.

For the prodigal, it is clear that God’s love and grace is a gift which he did not deserve. However, for longtime Christians like me, the more subtle lesson lies within the older son’s response to his younger brother returning home. God knows even our good deeds are self-centered. The older son was no more deserving than the younger brother of the father’s love and gift. The parable teaches us we can only receive God’s love and grace as the unmerited bestowal of the father’s love.

“We are more sinful and flawed in ourselves than we ever dared believe, yet at the very same time we are more loved and accepted in Jesus Christ than we ever dared hope.” – Timothy Keller

Cristallea BuchananCristallea K. Buchanan is the vice president for Talent, Culture and Diversity for California Lutheran University. Cristallea serves as the university’s chief diversity officer and oversees a newly configured division that includes Human Resources, Mission and Identity, and Hispanic-Serving Institution initiatives. She guides, accelerates, and integrates established and new diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts across the university as part of a coherent, mission-driven strategy. Prior to becoming Honda’s head of inclusion and diversity in 2019, Buchanan was the head of organization development, learning and DEI for American Honda Finance Co. for five years. She has two decades of experience in leading diversity initiatives in the corporate, nonprofit and education sectors. Cristallea has extensive experience in strategic planning and human resources. She led employee learning and development programs for Southern California Edison and Five Acres, an agency serving abused and neglected children and their families. She spent 16 years managing workforce development programs for the Los Angeles County Office of Education and El Camino College. She comes from a family that greatly values education. Cristallea ‘s mother brought her family to the United States from South Korea because she wanted all of her children, especially her daughters, to have the opportunity to get an education. Cristallea earned bachelor’s degrees in mass communications and psychology from the University of California, Berkeley, and a Master of Science in global leadership from the University of San Diego School of Business Administration.

- Cristallea Kang Buchanan
Vice President of Talent, Culture and Diversity

loose ends