The 15th February saw the first of our Family Lent group at St Agnes. As the adults are using Henri Nouwen’s “The Return of the Prodigal Son”, the children are going to be using the story of the prodigal son to investigate some of the themes of Lent.

We began by looking at two things that go on in this season. The first is that we walk through the desert, accompanying Jesus on his journey towards Jerusalem and, during Holy Week, as he is betrayed, dies and rises on East morning. The second thing that goes on in Lent is that we look at our own lives and we take a journey back home towards the Father.

Following a time of reflection, we heard the first part of the story of the Prodigal Son. Nouwen talks in the first session of the adult’s course about the voice that calls the younger son “beloved”- the father’s voice and contrasts this with other voices that pull the young man away from home. These are always conditional, full of ‘ifs’. To help the children understand we thought about what the father might say to the son and what the ‘false friends’ would say. The older children investigated questions from the adult course:

q In his book about the Prodigal son, a priest called Henri Nouwen talks of our true home being with God- home, he says is the centre of our being where we can hear the voice that says “You are my Beloved” “You are loved.” What do you think this means?
q Henri Nouwen talks of ‘voices’ calling him away from home. What is ‘home’ to you? What are some of the ‘voices’ that call you away from home?

They wrote some of the voices that call them away from ‘home’ on speech bubbles.

Both group then looked at a “Blob Tree” with many ‘blob’ figures showing various emotions. They found those who did know they were loved unconditionally and those who, they thought, didn’t.

To finish we thought about two Bible stories. The first was the baptism of Christ, where Christ hears his Father’s voice saying “You are my beloved son.” We watched an animation of the temptations and listened to the voice of the Devil questioning whether Jesus really was God’s son. We listened to this reflection “Sometimes we hear voices that try to pull us away from home. They tell us we are not loved or they tell us we will only be loved if we are rich or powerful or fun. God’s voice always calls us home. Home is where we hear “You are loved, you are my beloved.” Finally we prayed to end the session.