Our second Family Lent group took its inspiration from Henri Nouwen’s writing about the return of the Prodigal Son and specifically his quote about the son’s confusion as he makes his way home.

We began by reflecting on last week and hearing the Bible passage that tells the story of the younger son’s return home. Then we split into two groups. The younger children thought about the different feelings the son would have had sitting in among the pigs and then they drew pictures to show some of these.

The older children were given the following quote from Henri Nouwen:

“When the younger son was no longer considered a human being by the people around him, he felt the profundity [intensity] of his isolation, the deepest loneliness one can experience. He was truly lost, and it was this complete lostness that brought him back to his senses. He was shocked into the awareness of his utter alienation and suddenly understood that he had embarked on the road to death. He had become so disconnected from what gives life- family, friends, community, acquaintances, and even food- that he realised that death would be the natural next step. All at once he saw clearly the path he had chosen and where it would lead him; he understood his own death choice; and he knew that one more step in that direction he was going would take him to self-destruction. In that critical moment, what was it that allowed him to opt for life? It was the rediscovery of his deepest self. “

Then they responded to this with a series of pictures, explained here by the artists:

Picture 1: The son is enveloped in dark clouds to show that he is already being tempted before he leaves his father. He is a young flower, so easy to tempt and be confused.

Picture 2: The son is on full bloom with artificial love from the people who place conditions on him, even though the flower appears healthy, the roots are dying.

Picture 3: The son is starting to realise his so-called friends do not care for him after he loses all his money and his friends’ conditions for love.

Picture 4: The son is shown as being a dead and shrivelled plant. The enemy is shown to be entwining him in hate and loneliness. He has nothing and has forgotten real love (from his father.)

Picture 5: When the son makes the decision to go back to his father, from the dead roots of his bad decisions a new shoot is growing.

Picture 6: The son is shown as a flower in full bloom with healthy roots this is because he now knows that he has unconditional love from his father and will always be loved. The enemy has lost his grip on the son.

Once we had looked at each group’s work, we acted out the journey home of the son. Around the church, on our way ‘back home’, we found the son’s thoughts, all the doubts he might have had as he walked back. Just as he got close to the ‘farm’ his father came running out and replaced the son’s rags with a rich, red cloak and brought him back home, where the Blues Brothers helped the party along!

We finished with the following prayer, written by Karlie:

God who loves us and in whom we live, and move and have our being

We thank you that you seek to make your home in and with us

And long for us to live, rest and dwell in you

May this become more and more our lived experience

At home with you, may our prayer be like breathing

Breathing in the fullness of your love

And breathing out love for you and others

We ask through grace to come home to that love in a deeper way

Through Jesus Christ who restores us to love