In the text, Moses exhorts the people to offer unto God their first fruits in remembrance and thanksgiving for their inheritance of the new land. They have toiled and struggled in the wilderness for many years and have come at long last to the place of divine promise. God has been good to them. God has kept his promises and has brought them to a place of great wealth and prosperity. The soil is ripe for planting and harvesting. The hills and valleys are rich with minerals. The water flows like milk and foliage tastes of honey. The sky is blue, the grass is green, and the earth is good.
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.