In the second century, some Christians produced popular literature that told stories of Jesus as a young boy. The best known such book is called the Infancy Gospel of Thomas. It tells of Jesus making clay pigeons that then come to life and fly away. Another time, Joseph cuts a board too short in the carpenter shop and Jesus miraculously stretches it to the right length. He heals his childhood friends and raises one from the dead. But then, on a more disturbing note, a child bumps into him one day in the marketplace and, annoyed, Jesus curses him so that he falls down and dies.
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.