September 11, 2016
Welcome: Children will enter quietly and sit together on the floor. Welcome all children and ask if there are any new friends today. (Remind children of listening skills.)
Theme: The Lost Sheep, the Lost Coin and the Prodigal Son
Introduction: How many of you have ever lost something really important to you? (allow answers.) How did you feel when you lost that really important thing? (allow answers.) What did you do? Did you look all over the house, in your backyard, in your mom and dad’s cars . . . Did you ever find what you had lost? Then how did you feel? What about you? Have you ever been lost for a short time from your mom and dad? It’s a scary thing to be lost and something that we really never want. It is always so wonderful when we find something we have lost and it is especially wonderful when we ourselves are found.
In today’s Bible story from the Gospel of Luke, Jesus tells a parable or story about a lost sheep, a lost coin and even a lost son. Let’s listen now to Jesus’ stories.
Bible Reference (Read Aloud)
Luke 15:1-32 (Read the portion highlighted and then for the portion about the prodigal son read from “The Jesus Storybook Bible pp 272-279
15 Now all the tax collectors and sinners were coming near to listen to him. 2And the Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling and saying, “This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them.” 3So he told them this parable: 4“Which one of you, having a hundred sheep and losing one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the one that is lost until he finds it? 5When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders and rejoices. 6And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ 7Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance. 8“Or what woman having ten silver coins, if she loses one of them, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it? 9When she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.’ 10Just so, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
11Then Jesus said, “There was a man who had two sons. 12The younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of the property that will belong to me.’ So he divided his property between them. 13A few days later the younger son gathered all he had and traveled to a distant country, and there he squandered his property in dissolute living. 14When he had spent everything, a severe famine took place throughout that country, and he began to be in need. 15So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed the pigs. 16He would gladly have filled himself with the pods that the pigs were eating; and no one gave him anything. 17But when he came to himself he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired hands have bread enough and to spare, but here I am dying of hunger! 18I will get up and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; 19I am no longer worthy to be called your son; treat me like one of your hired hands.”’ 20So he set off and went to his father. But while he was still far off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion; he ran and put his arms around him and kissed him. 21Then the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ 22But the father said to his slaves, ‘Quickly, bring out a robe—the best one—and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23And get the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; 24for this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found!’ And they began to celebrate. 25“Now his elder son was in the field; and when he came and approached the house, he heard music and dancing. 26He called one of the slaves and asked what was going on. 27He replied, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fatted calf, because he has got him back safe and sound.’ 28Then he became angry and refused to go in. His father came out and began to plead with him. 29But he answered his father, ‘Listen! For all these years I have been working like a slave for you, and I have never disobeyed your command; yet you have never given me even a young goat so that I might celebrate with my friends. 30But when this son of yours came back, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fatted calf for him!’ 31Then the father said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. 32But we had to celebrate and rejoice, because this brother of yours was dead and has come to life; he was lost and has been found.’”
Response: In the three different stories that Jesus told to the crowd of people gathered around him he talked about the “rejoicing” that happened when each animal, thing, or person was found. Jesus said that in the same way God rejoices when those who are “lost” or separated from God are “found.” I wonder how we can be lost from God? In the story of the lost son that we read from the Storybook Bible, the son goes away and leaves his father spending all of his money and eventually getting to a point in which he wishes he could eat the food that is fed to the pigs! He feels embarrassed and wants to hide away, but he decides that he will go to his father and ask for forgiveness. When the son arrives back at his father’s home, the father welcomes his lost son with open arms and throws a big party for him. He forgives his son and tells him that he has never stopped loving him or looking for him. In the same way there are times when we may do something that may be hurtful or not nice to someone else or we may not appreciate something that we have been given and we mistreat it. We may feel ashamed. We may even want to hide our face away from our parents or our friends whom we have hurt. We also may feel like we want to hide away from God. The good news is that God is always looking for us and God is always with us. Even when we feel ashamed and want to hide away, God is with us, loving us and looking after us, just as the son was always on the father’s heart and mind when he was spending all of his father’s money and doing whatever he wanted to do. God always loves us and forgives us even when we don’t turn to him. When we do trust in God we receive the joy of forgiveness and love that God always gives to us. The very good news is that despite what we may do to separate ourselves from God, God always loves us, God always looks for us, God is always with us and God always rejoices in each one of us as we trust in him.
Together pray the Lord’s Prayer.