To show the children that God loves us and forgives us when we say sorry.
Luke 15:11-32. The Lost Son
You will need:
Three paper plates – one with a happy face, one with a sad face, one with a face with a jealous expression.
Three flash cards with the following wording:
- Dig, dig Work, work, Sweat, sweat, Phew!
- Get, get, Money, money, Spend, spend, Gone!
- Love, love, Love, love, Love, love, Love!
- If possible read the story from a modern translation of the Bible.
- Make the flash cards.
- Show the children the faces on the plates and talk about times they have felt happy, sad or jealous over something.
- Ask them to listen carefully to the story for times when people had these feelings.
Choose three pairs of children to hold the flash cards. The younger children will not be able to read these words, but they will remind the older children of what to say. Practise the sayings, and teach the children the following actions for the last line of each: – Wipe the back of your hand over your forehead for ‘phew!’ – Hold out both hands, palms up, to signify ‘gone!’ – Hug yourself for ‘love!’
Some people were grumbling about the kind of people Jesus spent time with. Jesus mixed with people that no one else would speak to! So one day Jesus told them a story.
There was once a man who had two sons. The older one stayed at home and worked very hard for his father.
The younger one wanted to go off and to see the world, so one day he went to his dad and asked for his share of the money that one day would be his.
The father thought for a while about how much he loved his son.
And somewhat sadly he said, ‘Yes, son’ and gave the boy his share.
So when the money had been collected together for him, the boy left home and went off to a faraway country. (Take the children with this card round to the back of the room, as if going on a journey. Ask the children for ideas of how he might have spent his money.)
For a while he had lots of fun spending the money, buying whatever he wanted, spending the money on new clothes and eating the best food, on having parties and buying things for the new friends he had made. Until one day, the money ran out.
So the young man had to get a job, and he found one on a farm, feeding the pigs. After a while in that country there wasn’t enough food for everyone, and the young man became very, very hungry. He was so hungry that he felt like eating the pigs’ food! You know when there are leftovers from dinners at school? They get put in a bucket and given to feed pigs. Just imagine it! The boy was so hungry that he would have eaten leftover baked beans and chocolate pudding and chips and pizza and yoghurt all thrown in together! Then he suddenly realised how stupid he had been.
‘Back home, even the servants on my dad’s farm have better food that this. They have three good meals a day and a warm bed to sleep in. I wonder if my father would ever take me back to be one of his servants if I went to him and said “sorry” for what I have done?’
So the young man decided to go back home.
When he was still some distance from the house, his father saw him and ran to meet him. The young man knelt down at his father’s feet and began to speak. ‘I’m sorry for what I have done wrong. I’m not fit to be your son. Will you let me come back as one of your servants?’
But before he had finished speaking, his dad hugged him.
He shouted for people to bring his best clothes for his son to wear; to bring shoes for his feet and a ring for his finger, and to get food ready for a party! The dad loved his son so much that he forgave him everything.
When the older son heard this he was very cross. ‘It’s not fair!’ he said. ‘I’ve stayed at home and worked hard all this time.
‘You never gave me a party!’
‘I know,’ said his father, “and you know that I love you very much.”
‘But your brother was lost and he is found, so we had to have a party, because I love him very much too.’
- Talk about the happy, sad and jealous feelings in the story. a) To begin with the money made the younger son happy – the father was extremely happy when his son came hom. b) The younger son made his father sad by going away – the older son made him sad by being cross when his brother returned. c) The older brother was jealous at the way his father treated his younger brother.
- There are things that we do that hurt other people and hurt God.
- God is like the dad in the story. He forgives us when we say ‘sorry’ and always keeps on loving us.
Use the following prayer or similar:
Dear God, we are sorry for hurting other people and you by the wrong things that we do. Please forgive us and help us to do the things that please you. Amen.