The Feast of Christmas celebrates God's wondrous gift of Jesus Christ to be the Savior of the world. The Feast of Epiphany celebrates our human gifts to God, symbolized by those gifts given by the wise men to the Christ Child. More than any other characters in the Christmas story, the three wise men have been the subject of much good humor. Perhaps you recall the story of the little boy who was setting up a manger scene in the corner of his schoolroom. Puzzled for a moment, he called out to his teacher, "And where shall I put the three wise guys?"
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.