A Funeral Homily For TheTransfiguration (August 6)* Canticle: Nunc Dimittis
Picture, if you will, a small child learning to walk. The parents stand a few yards apart. The first parent directs the child toward the other parent. At first the child looks back to the first parent for encouragement. But at a critical moment near the middle of the journey, the child starts looking ahead to the second parent, puts out his or her hands, and hurries into the welcoming arms (borrowed from Demetrius Dumm in Flowers in the Desert, page 95).
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.