The lost son (Part 2)
It’s not fair
by Laurence Chilcott
Suitable for Key Stage 2 - Church Schools
To explore the themes of jealousy and spite in relationships with others (SEAL theme: Relationships).
Preparation and materials
- This assembly and ‘The lost son (Part 1)’ are best told on consecutive days or weeks.
- You will need a leader and three children to either read the parts of the servant, father and son in the story or act it out as a tableau, rehearsing a little before the assembly.
Leader You will remember the story we heard in assembly that Jesus told, about the son who sold his share of his father’s farm he was to inherit and went off to the city intending to enjoy himself. You will also remember that, in the end, he decided it was a big mistake and went back home to beg his father’s forgiveness. Much to his surprise, his father forgave him completely and even threw a party for him. That’s where we left the story last time, but Jesus did not end it there – he also talked about the eldest son, who had stayed at home.
The lost son continued
The eldest son was sorry to see his younger brother leave the farm. Secretly, he may have been a little envious, but he felt a great loyalty to his father and was happy with his life on the farm. He knew that, one day, the farm would be his and, now his brother had taken his share, everything he and his father did in the meantime to build up the farm would eventually be passed on to him. His brother would have no right to any future share, no matter how successful the farm became.
During all the time his brother was away, the eldest son worked hard and the farm prospered. Occasionally he would wonder what his little brother was doing, but, generally, he was too busy to think much about him – there was so much to do. The farm covered a vast area and sometimes, at lambing time or when a wolf was on the prowl, he would be out in the fields for days at a time, sleeping under the stars or in a rough shelter.
It was early evening, after one such period away, that he returned to the house. As he approached, he noticed that there seemed to be a lot of activity. He could smell cooking and hear music playing. He saw one of the servants drawing water from the well and asked him what was happening.
Reader 1 Your brother has come back and your father is throwing a party to celebrate because he’s home safe and sound.
Leader The eldest son could hardly believe it. Why should his brother, who deserted his father and the farm, be treated so well? How was his return a cause for celebration? He was so angry and bitter about this turn of events that he decided to not even enter the house while the party was going on.
When his father heard that his eldest son was outside and refusing to come in, he went out to him.
His father could see how upset his eldest son was, but begged him to come in and join the party. He was surprised that his eldest son was not thrilled, like he was, about his brother’s return. He was taken aback by the anger in his son’s voice when he said:
Reader 2 I’ve worked for you all these years while my brother has been away. Because I’ve given 100 per cent, the farm has grown and prospered, I’ve done everything you’ve asked of me without question. Now my brother, who deserted us and wasted his money in the city, is being given a party. You’ve never done anything like that for me – it’s just not fair.
Leader His father put his arm around his son and explained:
Reader 3 You, my eldest son, are always here with me and everything I have is yours. Your brother was foolish, but, when he went away, anything could have happened – he could have become an outcast, he could have been put in prison, he could even have died and been lost forever – but he has come back. He is sorry for what he has done and knows he does not deserve a celebration, but, because he has come back, I want to welcome him and I want you to be pleased for him, too. He was lost, but now he is found. Please come in and join us.
Leader Do you think he went in? When Jesus told this story, he didn’t say what happened, but he must have told this part of the story for a reason. He was showing us that, when we admit our wrongdoing, God is willing to forgive us and celebrate. Perhaps he also wanted to show us that sometimes we do not appreciate how fortunate we are and often we take things for granted. It is also true that we can be jealous when other people are more successful than we are, instead of being pleased for them.
Time for reflection
Consider the feelings of the father, the eldest brother and the younger brother at each stage of the story.
How many things related to our homes and families do we often take for granted?
Help us to share gladly in the success of others.
When someone does well, may we be happy to congratulate them.
When someone falls, help us to comfort them.
Forgive us when we take things for granted and help us to appreciate all the good things we have.
‘I will bring you the best gift I can offer’ (Come and Praise, 59)