Four men spent a week together in a hospital ward. They grew to know the aides and nurses well. Ninety-seven and a half percent of these helpers were a delight. Each performed his or her task with genuine zeal. Even when they were too busy for talk, these persons gave a sense of caring with their touch, their eyes, their swift attentiveness. One aide, however, appeared to be of a different stripe. She didn't just insert thermometers under waiting tongues. She thrust them. She didn't just remove trays from the bedside table.
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.