To show that, with God, a new start is always possible.
Luke 15:11-24. The Lost Son
You will need:
- A large sheet of paper
- Poster paints
- A paint brush
- Something to protect the floor etc
- An easel would be helpful
None essential (but you could draw a faint outline for the painting, to make it easier!).
1. You do not need to be a good artist for this! Paint a picture; it looks good to begin with, but as you get carried away using colours you forget to wash the brush and the colours begin to run together. Don’t spend too long on it. Hold it up to show people; as you do so, the paint will run and the picture will be spoiled some more.
2. Start again, asking someone to help and advise you. Perhaps use a staff member who is artistic.
3. Some things can never be started again. But some can. You were able to start the picture again, and the person you asked to help stopped you from making the same mistakes again.
4. This is the start of a new year. It’s fresh and new, like a clean sheet of paper. Just as you asked for help to get the painting right, we can ask God, who makes each day new, to help us to get things right. And he will. But even when we get things wrong, God can help us to start again.
The assembly could end after this, or go on to tell the story of the lost son if you want to take the subject further. If you are very artistic, the second picture could be of a dad and his son!
Tell the story of the dad and the son. You might want to have some words for the children to join in every time you mention the two characters – eg ‘Dad…’ said in pleading voice, for the son; ‘Yes, son’ for the dad.
There was once a dad who had two sons. One was older, so, of course the other one was younger. One day the younger son went to his dad and said ‘DAD…’ ‘YES, SON,’ said the father. ‘DAD…could I have my share of your money now please?’
His dad thought about it for a while, and then, even though he didn’t want to see his son leave home, he said, ‘YES, SON’ because he loved him.
The son set off for a country far away and quickly spent the money on parties, food, and all sorts of other things that he’d always wanted for himself. But it didn’t last for ever, and finally he ran out of money.
He got himself a job; not a very good job, just feeding pigs. But then there was no food in the country and he began to get very, very hungry.
At last he realised what a mess he’d made of everything. And then he started to get things right.
He decided to go home and say ‘sorry’ to his dad, and ask his dad to let him work as a servant. So he set off for home.
Even before he got home, while he was still practising what he would say to his dad, his father saw him coming and ran to meet him. ‘DAD…’ began the boy, wanting to go on to say all the things about being a servant. But his dad was so pleased to see him that he interrupted. ‘YES, SON,’ he said, ‘It’s great to see you and I’m so glad that you’re back. Let’s have a party everybody!’
So they did. Even though the boy had wasted all the money, his dad welcomed him back because he loved the boy so much.
What was it that the boy needed to say to his father? Sorry.
Why did the dad welcome his son home and let him start again? Because he loved him.
Jesus told that story to help people to understand that God is like the father in the story. When we have done things wrong and made a mess of things, we can go to him and say ‘sorry’ – and because he loves us he will forgive us and give us a new beginning.
It may be appropriate to end with a ‘sorry’ prayer, but include with it a ‘thank you’ that God does forgive and help us to start again, and perhaps a ‘please’ that he will help us to get things right.