We have been looking at the symbols of the cross during this season. Like the symbols of the rest of the Christian message, these symbols are cumulative. When we put them all together, we see something of the full message of Jesus. The first symbol is the palms which represent the fickleness of the crowd whose Palm Sunday commitment became dry and dead like the palm branches on our cross by the end of the week. The money bag symbolizes on one level greed and on another level the attempt to manipulate Jesus into a different role as Messiah than the one which Jesus understood his role to be.
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.