4th Sunday of Lent — Family faith formation for March 27, 2022

NOTE: During the season of Lent you may want to have the following items available for your gathering space: a candle and matches, a cup of water, a roll or a piece of bread, a cut out of a heart, a cross and a piece of purple cloth.


Invite various persons to bring a designated item and use this liturgy as a way to begin your time of learning together.

One: This is the season of Lent, 40 days of remembering and prayer, worship, and thinking deeply on the ways we can

All: Follow in the ways of Jesus   

One: He came as a baby to bring light to the world and how us how to

(Place a candle on a table in your gathering place and light it.)

All: Follow in the ways of Jesus   

One: The Bible tells the story of the way he called disciples when he was on earth and how he still calls disciples today who will

(Place an open bible on a table in your gathering place.)

All: Follow in the ways of Jesus

One: When people were hungry, he gave them food. When people were thirsty, he gave them water. When people needed love, he loved them — even those the world thought were unlovable and called us to do the same as we  

(Place the bread, the cup of water and the heart in your gathering place.)

All: Follow in the ways of Jesus  

One: When it became obvious that we still had trouble being faithful, he made his way to Jerusalem and to the cross so that through his grace we would be able to 

(Place a cross on a table in your gathering place)

All: Follow in the ways of Jesus

One: And so, each year, for the 40 days leading to Easter we remember what Christ did for us, pray for forgiveness for our unfaithfulness, worship the God who loved us enough send us the Son and think deeply on how we can

(Drape the cross with the purple cloth)

All: Follow in the ways of Jesus

One: We are here, Holy Spirit, ready for your leading   

God sightings and prayer offerings

Invite each person to share where they saw or experienced God this week. Invite each person to share something – a person, community, experience, event, etc. – for which they want to offer prayer.

Good and gracious God, we thank you for all the ways you were and are present in our lives and in the world…[invite each person to say aloud the sighting they named earlier]. We bring our prayers to you, prayers for…[invite each person to say aloud the prayer need they named earlier]. In Christ’s name, we pray. Amen.

Connecting with Scripture: Luke 1:1-3, 11b-32 (NRSVCEB)

For the second reading, close your eyes and watch the story unfold in your mind’s eye. 

Connecting through story

Take a moment to take in these pieces of art: Rembrandt’s “The Return of the Prodigal Son” and Bartolomé Esteban Murillo’s series “Picturing the Prodigal Son.”

  • What part of the story does each painting represent?
  • Who do you see in the paintings? What are they doing? What do you think they are thinking?
  • How does this painting expand your understanding or your questions about the text?

Connecting with our lives

Engage in dialogue

  • Why do you think the tax collectors and sinners came near Jesus to listen to him?
  • Why do you think Jesus used this parable in response to the grumbling of the pharisees?
  • This parable raises a number of “why” questions. Why do you think …
    • the younger son wanted his inheritance early?
    • the father was willing to give it to him?
    • the son squandered it?
    • the older son angry?
    • the father welcomed him back with a celebration?
  • In what ways would it be difficult to return home after wasting all his inheritance and ending up feeding pigs?
  • What made the son finally come to his senses and return home?
  • What do you think was at the heart of the celebration for the son’s return?
  • Artists sometimes paint themselves into their art or depict a biblical scene in a current context. (It’s why Jesus sometimes looks like he lived in Europe rather than the Middle East.) If you were painting the parable of the prodigal son, which character would you be in the story?
  • When have you rebelled and squandered a gift?
  • When have you been resentful of someone who received something good you thought they didn’t deserve?
  • What do the father’s actions teach us about God?
  • When have you felt welcomed, loved and embraced by God?

Teaching Points that can be incorporated into your discussion

  • A parable is a short story that opens new meaning and understanding. Jesus used them often in his teaching.
  • This familiar story provides us with a variety of themes and perspectives that influence break open the way we see who God and our relationship with God.
  • One can approach this parable from the perspective of the “prodigal” son and find our own tendencies towards self-centeredness, entitlement, and disregard for the gifts we have been given.
  • One can approach this parable from the perspective of the “older brother” and find our own tendencies towards judgment, jealousy, and resentment.
  • However, when we approach this parable from the perspective of the “father” we can find ourselves baffled by the generosity forgiveness, love and grace.
  • The “father’s” actions defy human tendencies and point to the capacity of God to welcome and embrace all of us – sinner, saint, tax collector, priest – no matter what we squander or how we are unworthy.
  • It is God who grants us worthiness – not our own actions.
  • It is God who yearns for us when we rebel, and it is God who welcomes us home when we return.

 Create your own painting, drawing or illustration of the Prodigal Son from your own perspective.  


Close your time together by praying for one another, your neighbor, community and the world.