Welcome to 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? 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 will receive 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’m happy to send it to you. Or join this site and get this script and 9 others.)

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 response time? What ideas can serve as springboards for their own creativity in making a gift for God?

Starter Ideas for Art Response

(Called “Starter Ideas” because this isn’t your grandmother’s craft time. We hope to give the children germs of an idea and then let them take it where they want to take it! Children respond on a much deeper level when they contribute their own ideas to their responses.)

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-like a tablecloth full of love messages to God. 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.
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 noon on Thursday, I can let you know how many we have and put them in your room for you.
3. Children could make cards 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.4. Some children might enjoy acting out the parable. If you can video it, send it to me and I’ll share it.5. 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.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?)

4. Why not make a door out of popsicle sticks, with the sign on it that says, “Welcome Home!” That’s a great reminder of the father who waits, ready to welcome home his son no matter what he’s done.

For more art response ideas, see my Pinterest board on the parable, here.

Love, Becky