Fire under control has a purifying effect. In America's steel mills, fire is used to remove elements of impurity from the molten metal. So it is with the fire of the Holy Spirit. It is used to cleanse and purify imperfections in our lives. Still, many people fear fire. We spend much time protecting ourselves in life from the dangers of fire. Smoke detectors are in each and every house to warn us of impending danger. The fire department is easily dispatched by dialing 911. Crowds line up at disaster movies like The Towering Inferno.
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.