Have you noticed that no matter how much of a mess we make of our lives, God never gives up on us? We try to do the right thing, but fail over and over again. Paul talks openly about the fact that he knows the right thing to do, but just keeps doing the wrong thing. He can't seem to help himself. I guess it all started with the first Adam who got to work early one morning and parked on the line between two parking places so that everyone who came after him has parked on the line ever since. What a mess we humans keep making of things. Theologians call it sin and it touches us all.
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.