She was only sixteen years old when the court sentenced her to death for her crime. She and two or three other teenage girls had attacked and killed an old woman. They broke into her house. They kicked, stabbed, and beat her viciously and without mercy until she died. As I listened to the story, I felt a growing rage within me. How could anyone be so cruel, so insensitive, so callous, and so mean? How could they listen to her pleas for mercy and not be touched? They set upon the old woman who had done nothing to them and assaulted her body until she fell to the floor.
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.