The God portrayed in the Hebrew Scriptures and in the life of Jesus is not only extraordinarily different, but diametrically opposed to other visions. This is not to say that there are no truths in other religions, or that they bring no insight to life; but, in them, one does not discover the fullest self-revelation by God. After all, if this is truly God we are talking about, then it seems to me that we are fully dependent upon what he lets us know about him, and all of our other speculations are likely to be wide of the mark, if they are not grounded in what he has given us.
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.