Jacob knew nothing of the geography that stretched beyond his farmland to the Great Sea. He did not even know that a Great Sea existed out there, westward beyond his land. He had never been further than half a day's journey from the collection of 15 stone houses that formed his village. Nor did he know anyone who had been further away than those eight or 10 miles. Nor did anyone in his village think much about far-off regions. Jacob only knew of the fields and gentle slopes of land that he could see as he paused in the hard work of seed planting.
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.