Arnold Toivonen was headed to work at 5:06 a.m. Monday morning on a wet highway winding east through the dark pines that came crowding up close to the road from out of the spring fog. Arnold worked at the Caterpillar shop in town, crawling into the iron bellies of enormous Caterpillar tractors, scraping his knuckles on their cold, sharp innards, dropping heavy wrenches on the concrete with that satisfying metallic ring, and wiping his greasy hands on gray cloths while he stood around talking with his foreman, Jack, about what to do next.
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.