Our four Gospel accounts are filled with stories of Jesus living out his kin-dom vision through healing. These stories invite us to explore just what healing looks like (interesting how it is often paired with reconnection and reconciliation with the community) and the power Jesus carries with him.
As adults we struggle with these stories. Did this really happen? Why this person and not another? Could this happen for me or someone I love? Children, I find, are able to enter into the story–not with less questions, mind you–but a willingness to be present, to listen and wonder.
Maybe your lectionary reading for this week has a healing story, or you’re working through some healing stories as a community. Maybe you’ve got a child who anxious and fascinated by all things medical right now, especially with coronavirus and conversations around vaccination.
Well, as we wonder about what it means to see Jesus as Healer, and to welcome the healing presence of the Spirit into our lives, why not get creative by making yourself a DIY medical kit!
Here’s what you’ll need
Make a jumbo popsicle stick thermometer by marking measurements on each side of your popsicle stick. Selina added a low temperature on one side and high temperature on the other. These are great for pretending to put in a stuffies’ mouth or armpit.
You can make bandages by cutting our felt. You can even use a large bandaid as a template! Add some adhesive velcro dots to the back of the bandaids to help them adhere to themselves (to wrap around) or the the soft material of a stuffie. We used different coloured felt for ours instead of “nude” (i.e. pink) as an intentional nod to anti-racism. Strips of white felt make the perfect bandage/cast to wrap around a broken leg or arm.
Does your doctor or nurse have a hard time remembering all the steps of their pretend medical exam? Print off our editable Check-up Checklist, which you customize with your kid’s name or name of their pretend clinic! (This is 8.5×11 PDF but by printing 4-to-a-page you can save on paper!)
If you have any old infant care items around like liquid medicine syringes or rubber suction bulb add those as well! The medicine syringes make great pretend needles.
Bringing it back to Scripture
You can combine this kit with biblical stories like the healing of Jairus’ daughter (Mark 5:21–43, Matthew 9:18–26 and Luke 8:40–56). This is a great example because it talks about Jesus healing a little girl, and doesn’t mention sin or demon possession which can be complicated to discuss with younger children. For other ideas and child-appropriate retellings check-out compilations like The Story of Jesus’ Teaching and Healing: A Spark Bible Story.
Connect the story with your community
This is a great opportunity to ask children about their experience with illness. Do they have an illness, or have they ever been sick before? Selina is very intentional in the mornings when she has to take medication to talk with her toddler about what it means to be sick, to get help for that sickness. Is there an example from your own life you could use?
Name healers in your community! Not just doctors and nurses, but pharmacists, counsellors, massage therapists, physiotherapists and chiropractor…. Can you think of any more? What about those who care for their sick neighbour by bringing over groceries and food, those who visits with and pray for those who are unwell?
Healing as ministry
To “minister” means to “care for”. As a church our ministry is one of healing. Healing doesn’t always mean “cure”, that the problem is fixed, it’s much bigger than that. God desires abundant life for all of us. Abundant life is possible for all, those living with chronic illness, those who are disabled, those who “healthy”. The earlier we begin to talk with our kids about what healthy looks like, what healing looks like, the better. We have a chance to discuss what a good life looks like, and how God desires only good things for them.
So, when you use examples of healing, make sure you’re pay attention to whether your stories and examples include a diverse array of people. Talk about how healing that honours the lives and experiences of those whose illness changed them permanently, those whose bodies look different from what we usually call “normal”, and those who’ve found God’s peace and healing when cure was not possible.
Remind yourself, and your kids, that a ministry of healing is about care for others. God has gifted and invited all of us into this ministry including them! And ask… What are ways they can live out their call to the ministry of healing?