In The Great Stone Face by Nathaniel Hawthorne, we are told about an Indian legend which states that someday there will be a man who will look like the stone face and will take on its character. We are introduced to a little boy, Ernest. Throughout the story, various candidates come along, who seemingly will be the one taking on that character. Yet, for one reason or the other, they all fail. As the years pass, people begin to notice that it is Ernest, now grown up, who has taken on the character, the kindness, and the wisdom, of that great stone face which he has watched so long.
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.