We are now almost fifty days after Easter, days that were filled with the immediate presence of the resurrected Jesus. These were times when Jesus' followers believed that these experiences would go on forever. Then came a time when this immediate presence of Jesus faded like all great moments. If we go to the concert hall and hear the orchestra perform one of those powerful symphonies of Mahler, we leave the concert hall, and for a few hours the magnificent music surrounds us. Eventually it fades, like the presence of Jesus, and we are back to our common, ordinary days.
I am so happy to see you this morning. How are you? (children may respond)
Let's play a game I call “Lost and Found.” Okay? (children respond)
(presenter role plays) Uh, oh, I lost something for today's message. Hmm, I wonder where it could be. It's a box like this. (shows approximate dimensions) (instruct the children to look around the immediate area) (then presenter or child finds it)
Since the Fourth Sunday in Lent has been historically identified as Laetare (Rejoicing Sunday), it is most appropriate that the lessons collectively testify to a theme for which we can rejoice — God saves us by his grace!
In this familiar and well-loved story of the Prodigal Son, I often wonder what happened to the mother of the family. She's totally ignored. So are any daughters. It seems like a completely male stronghold. So much so that I wonder whether perhaps the mother had died some years previously, and that was the cause of much of the unhappiness displayed by both the father and the sons. Or whether the father was such a domineering character that his wife played no real part in family life, but simply bowed her head in compliance with all his wishes, no matter how extreme they were.