Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The Parable of the Loving Father

Hi Godly Play Teachers!
Welcome to a brand new lesson, The Parable of the Loving Father, the story Jesus tells in Luke 15, 11-32.
I've always called this parable the Parable of the Prodigal Son, but I like that many others call it by this name, changing the focus from the sins of the son to the amazing forgiveness, grace, and love of the father.

What an important lesson to teach our children, that nothing can separate us from the love of God. (Romans 8:38-39!) The world is full of hurting people who need to hear this, don't you think? What a great story to help our kids explore.  Who hasn't made mistakes and felt out of the circle-- and who hasn't also felt a tinge of resentment when someone not playing by the rules gets a free ride? (Or maybe that's just me! :) )  Awareness of God's grace is so important to our kids. It's a perfect discussion topic for this week.

If you're one of our Sunday school teachers at FBC Greenville, you should have received an email with the script included. Let me know if you didn't get it or have trouble opening it and I'll see if I can fix the problem. (If you're at another church and would like to use the script, send me an email and I'll send it to you.)

The parable is in a gold box (after all, it's a parable!) in your Sunday school rooms, ready for you.

Now, how can we help the children deepen their exploration and understanding of the story through their art time? What ideas can serve as springboards for their own creativity in making a gift for God?

Since this Sunday is two days from Valentine's Day, why not make your art time a celebration of God's love and amazing grace?
Here are a few ideas to get you started:

1. Have a celebration feast, just like the father threw for the son, celebrating God's special kind of love. The kids could decorate cookies--or here's something corny... eat pigs in blankets--reminding them of the pigs the son took care of. You could eat at the end and spend the first few minutes making it really special, letting the children make have decorations for the table. Candles on the table would be nice. And as you prepare, you could help the children remember what the feast is all about: honoring God, who loves us and welcomes us back to him, no matter what we do, no matter if we misbehave or if we stick so closely to the rules that we miss the whole point of love all together.
I'm glad to reimburse you for any supplies you need to buy. Just bring me a receipt (with only Sunday school purchases on it) and I'll make sure you're repaid quickly.

The fourth graders make a special table cloth full of love messages.

The feast is ready!

2. Put a small mirror in a craft store frame which each of the children can decorate, writing on it with Sharpies something like God loves me exactly like I am. Children could decorate the frame however they like, by gluing on sequins or foam shapes, by using glitter glue or whatever supplies you have on hand. 
We have a few of these frames in the resource room. If you give me a call before 2:45 on Thursday, I can let you know how many we have and put them in your room for you.

3. Children could make valentines for Meals on Wheels and for our folks in the hospital or in nursing homes. I'd be glad to see that they get to those who need them.
Valentines made by our first graders.
*I'll leave supplies for making valentines in the resource room.
4. Older children might be interested in taking a look at the much loved hymn Amazing Grace. They could illustrate it --or record themselves singing it. Let me know before Sunday if you need a recorder.

5. Some children might enjoy acting out the parable. I'd love to tape this if you do it. Let me know ahead of time if you plan to suggest this and I'll lend you a camera to tape it.

6. I bet the children could be really creative if you ask them to make a valentine for God, however they want, however big or small, whether 2 dimensional or 3 dimensional (clay maybe?)

If your kids make something you think should definitely be shared with the parents in the newsletter, would you drop me an email or call? I try to check your rooms during the week, armed with my camera, but I don't want to miss anything!

Thanks, y'all! I appreciate you!


  1. I'm excited to have discovered your lovely blog, Rebecca! I added your post link to my post on using Godly Play parables at home:

  2. Thank you, Deb! It's a pleasure to meet you! I look forward to hopping over to your blog!

    1. One way I would like to share, of calming the children and blessing them at the beginning of the circle: I light the Christ candle, and also small tea-light candles that represent each child in our midst, naming them as I light hsi candle, and blessing them, using one -sentence prayer. Then I turn off the lights and let them enjoy the little lights shining from Jesus and for Jesus in the dark. The children love it, and they are all so focused and attentive.

    2. Oh Anna, this kind of thing is one of my favorite parts of Godly Play! I'm sure that's so meaningful to each of the children you're with. Seeing the children focus so well when we do this helps remind me what an innate need we all must have for a personal blessing from God and from each other!

    3. Hi Rebecca,
      I've enjoyed coming to your blog again and again to look at Godly Play ideas. I currently live in Shanghai China and work with my husband here at a small expat church. Tomorrow I'm telling the prodigal son story, but wondering if I could get a copy of your script of the Loving Father as I will probably be making one up:)
      my email address is