The success of a dinner depends as much on fellowship as on food. This fellowship takes place through conversation. A banquet of friends buzzes like a beehive. Did you notice it or maybe you were too busy talking to have heard it? A dinner is a miserable occasion when two or more people sit down and eat their meal in a cold, bitter silence, because there is nothing for them to communicate. This dinner conversation need not be pleasantries or chit-chat, but it can be talk of substance. This was the case with the conversation at Martin Luther's dinner table.
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.