PRODIGAL SON ROTATION — OVERVIEW
Jesus tells the story of the ‘lost’ son who was welcomed home.
MARCH Year B
WORKSHOPS & ACTIVITIES:
Arts lab (pig piñata), Drama lab (short play), Kitchen (preparation for the Prodigal Party), & Computer lab (welcome home banner and/or Prodigal Son CD from Sunday software).
Luke 15: 11 - 32. READ THIS.
KEY VERSE (Luke 15. 32):
“But 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.” (New Revised Standard Version)
AFTER STORYTIME IN CHURCH, ALL AGE GROUPS WILL START TOGETHER FOR GATHERING TIME. THEN LEADERS WILL LEAVE WITH SCHEDULED GROUP
FOR THEIR WORKSHOPS.
BACKGROUND NOTES (& OTHER NEAT INFO)
recklessly wasteful; extravagant [from Latin prodigus meaning lavish] (The Canadian Oxford Dictionary).
A PARABLE IS:
a narrative of imagined events used to illustrate a moral or spiritual lesson (The COD).
KEY PLOT POINTS OF THIS PARABLE
- Younger of two sons asks father for inheritance. Said son promptly squanders inheritance. Famine occurs. Needs job. Finds
one feeding pigs. Thinks pigs’ food looks pretty good. Realizes life back home would be much better. Resolves to return
home and beg forgiveness from God and own dad.
- Dad sees wayward son ‘while still far off,’ runs out to greet son with big bear hug. Son admits he did a bad
thing. Dad calls for fancy robe, ring and sandals. Calls for fatted calf to be prepared for feast of celebration.
- Older brother who dutifully stuck it out around the homestead is distinctly miffed. Asks dad how come he never threw such
a party for him (the elder).
- Dad reminds him ‘all that is mine is yours.’ Reiterates need to rejoice that what had been lost ‘has been
This parable illustrates the exuberant graciousness of God’s love. In it, the lavish wastefulness of the son and the
lavish capacity to forgive of the father are equally prodigal. The contrast between the two types of prodigiousness are contrasted
and made more distinct. In this way the graciousness of the father figure come across as more exuberant.
This parable is linked with the parables Jesus told that appear a few verses earlier in this chapter of Luke — of the
lost sheep and the woman who sweeps and doesn’t give up until she’s found her lost coin.
HOW DO ALL THESE STORIES WITHIN THE STORY FIT TOGETHER?
If you look back at the beginning of Luke 15, it starts with the usual culprits grumbling about Jesus fraternizing with riffraff
yet again. So Jesus launches into a set of related stories about the value of lost things. The diligence of the shepherd,
perseverance of the sweeper and prodigious mercy of the father show repeatedly how seeming ‘less important’ things
LOTS OF REJOICING!
Notice how all the linked parables end with a party. In the prodigal son, the point is perhaps made most clearly that the
grace of the forgiving dad generates graciousness.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT.
According to Canadian writer and scholar Northrop Frye, parables like the Prodigal Son play a pivotal role in the way Jesus
taught, and in the way the Bible as a whole manifests is transformative power. Here is a remarkable closing paragraph by Frye
on this topic in a short by powerful essay in Northrop Frye on Religion , (Toronto: U of T Press, 2000), called
“[W]hile nothing in the eternal world is symbolic, everything in this world is. That is why, in speaking of his inner
kingdom, Jesus does not use philosophical language; he uses the language of symbol, example, and parable that religion speaks
in common with poetry, a language of bridegrooms and weddings, pearls of great price, of runaway sons and of people beaten
up on highways, of fair-minded and swindling petty officials. It is good to make our beliefs reasonable, but of course all
doctrinal statements contain their own opposites. If we say, “I believe in God,” we have already implied the possibility
of not believing in him. The language of reason is implicitly aggressive It is only the language of symbol that can express
a faith which is pure vision, and has no wish to attack or improve on anyone else’s faith. In short the language of
symbols is the language of love, and that, as Paul reminds us, will last longer than any other form of human communication
[1 Corinthians 13:8].
IN THE ARTS.
There are a couple of terrific artworks that illustrate the Prodigal Son. One is by Rembrandt, and shows the father forgiving
The other is by German artist Albrecht Durer. It’s an engraving from around 1498 showing the wayward son in the farmyard
with lots of pigs. It really captures a Lenten mood. Click here to see both these pieces, and others.
QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION
1. ‘Prodigal’ is a strange old-fashioned word that doesn’t actually appear in the text. Come up with some
different titles for this parable.
2. Has it ever happened to you that you had trouble forgiving someone for something? How did you deal with it?
3. Have you ever realized you did something really rotten to someone and had to say sorry. How did you deal with that?
FOR ALL WORKSHOPS – IN REAL TIME WITH THE CHILDREN…
1. Have them retell what they remember about the story they are studying. See how much more they remember each week.
2. Explain how your workshop connects to the story.
EXPLANATORY NOTE FOR THE PRODIGAL SON 2 ROTATION:
All workshops here focus on the party that the father throws for his son’s return home.
ARTS – PIG PINATA
ACTIVITY: Make a piñata to use at the welcome home party. Made in a pig shape, the children will be reminded of several key
components of this story. Will have to be made over 2 weeks, first for construction, 2nd for painting after leaving a week
to dry. (If you don’t want to make 1 pinata, your class could make individual papier mache pigs.)
MATERIALS: balloon, toilet tubes, masking tape, lots of newspaper, papier mache paste, boxcutter knife, yarn or ribbon, toothpick,
clear packing tape, candies. FOR PASTE: Mix 1/2 cup all-purpose flour and 2 cups cold water in a bowl. Add this mixture to
a saucepan of 2 cups boiling water and bring it to a boil again. Remove from the heat and stir in 3 tablespoons of sugar.
Let it cool; it will thicken as it cools.
Week 1: Blow up balloons, 1 small and 1 larger, for body and head of pig. With masking tape, attach 4 cylindrical tubes for
legs, and small balloon with short tube for snout as well as ears, all to larger balloon. *** Make a built-in papier mache
hanging loop for your piñata by taping some rolled up newsprint to the top of the pig’s back to form a small loop or
arch. Rip newsprint into strips and run strips thru paste. Cover entire pig shape in pate soaked strips, 2 or 3 layers, including
the hanging loop on top. Set aside for a week to dry.
Week 2: Paint your pig. Attach twisted pink pipecleaner for curly tail. TO MAKE A NO-BREAK PINATA (for children with sensitive
souls): Cut a square, trap door king of hole under the pig’s tummy, about 4 x 4 inches. Poke many holes into the square
flap. Run yarn or ribbon thru the holes and tie to inside with loose knot. These are the string that will pull thru easily
and not open the trap door. For the main pull string, thread thru door, and knot around a toothpick. Seal up the trapdoor
with packing tape or duct tape.
KITCHEN – PRODIGAL PARTY PREP
ACTIVITY – HELP THE FATHER GET READY FOR THE SON’S COMING HOME PARTY. WILL GET THE KIDS INTO THE CELEBRATORY MOOD
THE FATHER WOULD HAVE FELT.
MATERIAL & INSTRUCTIONS: Plan this party with your students. Foods could include chips, pop, veg platter, fruit platter, cookies,
cupcakes. Let your class help assemble and put the bowls, platters, pitchers, cups and plates out. Make sure you invite the
congregation to your Prodigal Party. A focal point could be the Prodigal Play that you will find in the drama workshop, also
in this posting.
COMPUTER – BANNER
ACTIVITY: MAKE A ‘WELCOME HOME BANNER’ FOR YOUR PRODIGAL PARTY.
There’s much opportunity for discussion in just talking about why you are making this banner and holding this party
for such a bad guy. Give the kids lots of time for discussion before moving on to the activity.
MATERIAL: a computer program that allows you to make banners, markers, stickers, tape.
This is more of a collective activity, kind of like making a skinny mural. A team of two could input text and output the banner.
The entire class can help assemble final project with markers, tape and stickers. Tape whole banner in room where you intend
to hold your party.
**For those who have budget for computer programs, Sunday Software has a CD just on the Prodigal Son story that looks quite
PLAY – “PRODIGAL PARTY.”
MATERIAL: Script for the “Prodigal Party.” Click here for the script.
Note: This play takes place behind the scenes in the home of the father as various characters help get ready for the party.
Depending on who they are, they have different opinions on whether the party is a good idea or not. This play is intended
to be put on for congregation members before they partake of your feast.
REVU OF WORKSHOPS FROM PRODIGAL 1:
Arts -- puppets. These were object theatre puppets. Obtain various kitchen and cleaning utensils from recycling centre and
dollar store. Get some googly eyes, yarn for hair, cloth scraps for clothes, pipe cleaners - use white glue to turn objects
into characters and animals from the story.
Drama -- puppet play. For this we just used our puppets from the Arts workshop and acted out the story while the leader/teacher/shepherd/older
student read verses from the story in the Bible.
Drama 2 - this just in - script for actors or puppets for Part 1 of the story. Find it here.
Computer -- forgiveness cards using simple card or word processing program.
Kitchen -- welcome home party cupcakes. Bake, ice and embellish cakes for the big fete.