Jim Carlson was a young pastor at a Lutheran church in Minnesota. Some years ago, he became troubled when several of the young people in his congregation felt like rejects. Senior prom at school was supposed to be the big party of the year, but if you didn’t have a date, you didn’t rate. And if your date wasn’t from the A-list, you would get crammed back at on of those corner tables, the ones reserved for nerds and geeks and misfits. All the “right” people got to do all of the wonderful things. But if you didn’t make the A-list, you might as well be mud.
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.