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A helping hand — Weekly Christian ed lesson

In this lesson, children will explore one of the healing stories in the Gospel of Mark noticing how a helping hand can bring a measure of wellness to someone who is unwell.

Lesson background

Adults and children alike are moved by biblical stories of Jesus healing ailing people. These healings are extraordinary, but the ways Jesus brings people back to health are quite ordinary. A poultice of mud and spit brings back a blind man’s sight. A woman’s hand on the hem of Jesus’ robe ends years of unexplained bleeding. It’s as if Jesus is reminding us that a small amount of loving care for an afflicted person goes a long way. In this lesson, children will explore one of the healing stories in the Gospel of Mark noticing how a helping hand can bring a measure of wellness to someone unwell.

What you’ll need

  • A Bible
  • A hand up activity: blank paper, pencils, scissors, crayons or markers, glue sticks, and a large sheet of roll paper (optional)
  • Simple acts of healing activity: a sheet of chart paper and markers (optional)
  • Paying it forward activity: a computer with Internet access connected to a data projector or television and video “International Pay It Forward Day”(optional)

Getting started

Greet the children as they arrive.

Ask the children to share stories of a time they didn’t feel well. Have them recount not only what ailed them, but also what made them feel better. Make note of the simple things that gave them comfort.

Hearing and exploring the story

Prepare to read aloud Mark 1:29-39.

Provide the children with context for the reading:

  • This reading comes from the New Testament Gospel of Mark.
  • In the story, Jesus heals people who are sick and who are “possessed by demons.” Ask the children to share their associations with the word demon. Note in the time and place Jesus lived, some people believed there were spirits that could influence people causing them to become sick or become unreasonable.

Read aloud Mark 1:29-39.

After reading, have the children wonder:

  • I wonder what Jesus’ disciples (Simon, Andrew, James and John) thought or said when they saw Jesus heal Simon’s mother-in-law …
  • I wonder why Jesus chose to simply hold Simon’s mother-in-law’s hand and lift her up rather than healing her in a spectacular way …
  • I wonder why the healed woman “served” the disciples as soon as she felt better …
  • I wonder how Jesus healed the other sick people who were brought to him …
  • I wonder why it was important to Jesus to heal people …

Connecting the story to our lives

To help the children connect the idea of simple actions bringing wellness to others to their own lives and experiences, invite them to engage in one or more of the following activities:

  • A hand up: Gather the materials you’ll need for this activity: blank paper, pencils, scissors, crayons or markers, glue sticks, and a large sheet of roll paper. Re-read verses 29-31. Note that Jesus heals Simon’s mother-in-law by simply holding out his hand and helping her up. We often use the phrase “a helping hand” to talk about how a small action like offering a hand to someone so they can get up can make a big difference when someone needs help. Give each child a sheet of blank paper and a pencil. Ask them to trace their hands on the paper. They may need assistance tracing their non-dominant hand. Then, have them cut the hands out using scissors. Have each child keep one of their paper hands, but ask them to trade the other with another person. Ask the children to draw a picture or write words about a time when someone might need help on one of the paper hands. Then ask them to draw a picture or write words about a small action that someone could take to help that person on the other paper hand. Have the children glue their paper hands to the large sheet of roll paper so that each “helping hand” is reaching out to its corresponding “hand in need.” Discuss the variety of responses on the large paper once all of the children have glued their paper hands on it.
  • Simple acts of healing: Gather the materials you’ll need for this activity: A sheet of chart paper and markers. Remind the children Jesus offers healing to Simon’s mother-in-law through a simple healing touch. Note there are seemingly simple things we can do to help someone who is sick or having a hard time. Write “Simple Acts of Healing” at the top of the sheet of chart paper. Ask the children to brainstorm ways they could support someone who needs support. Encourage them to think beyond instances of physical illness. Write their responses on the chart paper. Hang the sheet somewhere in the church where others can be inspired by the children’s ideas.
  • Paying it forward: Gather the materials you’ll need for this activity: a computer with Internet access connected to a data projector or television and video “International Pay It Forward Day.” Ask the children to recount what Simon’s mother-in-law did after Jesus healed her. Note that while we don’t know how she “served” Jesus and his disciples, we do know the healing moved her to offer kindness and care to them in response to her healing. Play the video. Have the children discuss instances where they have seen people “pay it forward.” Discuss ways they might “pay it forward” in their own lives. Encourage them to think of opportunities that do not necessarily involve money.

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