How “acting as if” makes way for a miracle?

The formerly paralyzed man walks!

The crowd inside the house was packed tight. And now four hard-working, faith-filled, determined men had created a hole in the roof so as to lower their paralyzed friend into Jesus’ presence. These friends were certain that Jesus would heal their buddy.

They chose to act as if it were already true.

I have read this story countless times. (It’s what I do when I am writing Rotation lessons.) I even will find myself returning to the story, reading it again, after the lesson is complete. Why?

Because usually I discover a new insight.

And sure enough I did. Something occurred to me that I hadn’t previously considered.

When Jesus says to the lame man:

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Get up, take your mat and go home.

What would have happened if the lame man hadn’t gotten up?

What if he was too afraid?
(He could fall flat on his face, and make a spectacle of himself!)

I had discovered another miracle in this story! The story that already contained several miracles — the industrious nature of the four friends, who overcame hardships to take a friend to Jesus, and the miracle of sins being forgiven and of course, the miracle of a previously paralyzed man able to walk! And now this miracle:

The lame man had to get up. He had to act as if the miracle were true.

'Immediately the paralyzed man stood up. He took his mat and walked out. (Mark 2:12)

Acting on a truth is what is needed for it to actually become your truth.

What is stopping you? Can your faith be an instrument that helps someone “get to” Jesus?

What about your kids?

Act as if your child is a spiritual being. (Because we are all spiritual beings!)
Act as if your child is interested in talking about faith.
Act as if you will discover something new.

You need to be brave — to “act as if” — to take part in miracles – however big or small they may be.

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Photo credits:
The lame man walks is a screenshot from a video posted by Bible Society Australia, who licensed their work under a Creative Commons (BY-NC 2.0) License.

Four Friends: Family Talk Time… and an activity!

Here’s an activity to do with your family, and questions to discuss, about our current Rotation on four friends who bring a lame man to Jesus.

Make cups of hot cocoa but leave out the sugar. Don’t say anything about your omission but allow everyone a chance to sample their cocoa.

Ask: What do you suppose is missing?
I am wondering if cocoa without sugar is sort of like our lives without Jesus?
I wonder what our lives would be like without Jesus’ love?

Pass around a sugar bowl and allow everyone to stir in to their cup, perhaps two tablespoons of sugar. After everyone has tasted their adjusted cocoa…
Ask: How does it taste now?

a boy shows his approval over hot cocoa

Ask: I wonder how adding sugar to your cocoa, is like adding Jesus’ love to your life?
How does having Jesus as your friend make life sweeter?
Say: Let’s read about a time when a man who was paralyzed (he couldn’t walk) had a sweetened life because he met Jesus.

Read Mark 2:1-12. Alternately, ask your kids to help you tell the story. Check the Bible for accuracy.

Ask: Would the man likely have been able to see Jesus without his friends help?
How has someone helped you recently and made your life sweeter?
What are ways that our helping other people is like bringing them to Jesus?
Are there other ways that we can “bring” people to Jesus by helping them?

Say: Those four friends had a lot of faith in Jesus. Jesus wants us to use our own faith to help spread Jesus’ sweet love.

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Photo credits:
Wonderful cocoa by woodleywonderworks on Flickr, licensed under: Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 Generic

It’s a miracle, but who is the real hero?

A man who was lame (i.e., couldn’t walk) was taken by four of his friends on a little ride on his mat. Can you see it? Four men, each holding a corner, struggling to carry their friend.

A statue of 4 men holding up a stretcher; located in the National Memorial Arboretum in the UK

It probably wasn’t the sort of ride that the man expected. If he’d have known his friends would lower him to see Jesus from a roof top, would he have consented to be carried?

I doubt it.

The Bible doesn’t tell us, but I think that he’d likely say, “All that work to see Jesus? Don’t waste your time friends. Jesus probably won’t have anything to do with me!

Why such a negative view of himself?

In Bible times it was believed that if you were sick, it was because somewhere in the past, you (or perhaps your relatives!) had sinned. This lame man felt guilty – he had been taught that he must have done something to deserve his fate!

But, his friends were persistent. They didn’t let anything stop them in their quest to get their friend an audience with Jesus! They just knew that Jesus could heal their friend.

It’s a miracle!

“Wait,” you say. I’ve jumped ahead in the story. I’ve skipped the part where Jesus tells the man to get up and walk.

And then we could say that it was a miracle.

I didn’t mean that miracle. I meant a different miracle. Did you know there is more than one miracle in this story?

How about the one where the real heros of this story shine? We all know that Jesus will perform a miraculous healing. So, who are the unidentified super stars? (Cue the Superman music?)

a child in a Superman costumeThat’s right, it’s the four friends! It’s a miracle that the paralyzed man had four friends who persisted in carrying him to Jesus!

The friends needed courage and creativity. They needed the right equipment! They gave 110%. Taking your friends to Jesus is worth it, and these four friends were sure of that.

 

How about you? What would you risk to take a friend to Jesus?

But I don’t feel comfortable inviting people to church, you say.

But there are other ways to “bring” someone to Jesus. Discuss it with your family. Here are a couple of ideas:

  • Pray for someone. Let them know that you are praying for them.
  • Share ways that you have perceived God at work in your life.
  • Train yourself and family members, to be sensitive of the needs of others. (It requires us to take notice!) Are they lonely, tired, afraid? What are ways that you can help? (Because being Jesus’ hands and feet brings people to Jesus!)
What will you do to take a friend to Jesus?

a blue line


Photo credits:
Stretcher bearers by Sjwells53, used under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 license.
“Superman” by Hiperterminal, who licensed this photo on Flickr under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License. (A cropped version of this photo.)

What is up for the four friends?

During the school year, each Rotation for our Cool Disciples (our 1st – 6th graders at FUMC in Ann Arbor, MI) includes several workshops that each teach the story from a different learning style. (True Rotation Model goodness!) In November 2010, (and in January 2017 — we repeat stories every six or so years) we studied about four friends who worked really hard to bring a paralyzed man to Jesus. Read the story in Mark 2:1-12.

The Palsied Man Let Down through the Roof, a painting by James Tissot from the Brooklyn Museum

Updated to note: Here is where the “Schedule” used to appear — which grades were visiting which workshops over the course of this Rotation. However it was removed as it was sort of out of date from 2010 🙂 Our current schedule of workshops, for whatever Rotation we are currently on, can be found on this page.

For prosperity, here is what we did in each workshop for the Faith Through the Roof Rotation:

  • In the Art Workshop in 2010, students created blankets to donate to Project Linus. In 2017, they each created a scarf using fleece material, to give to someone (a friend or otherwise) in need.
  • In the Cooking Workshop students create an edible storytelling kit for sharing the story. Have your kids share the story using their kit twice before eating it!
  • Four Friends - games workshopIn the Drama Workshop (2010) students will enact the story after identifying story characters and their feelings.
  • In the Games Workshop students will play a unique relay game to explore the faith and commitment of the four friends.
  • In the Newsroom Workshop (2010) students will participate in a Talk Show to hear the characters in the story describe their experiences. They’ll get to watch their taped show!
  • In the Video Workshop students will watch two different animated videos (video #1 and video #2) that tell our story. Watching the 2nd video muted will allow us to play a game by trying to provide the narration!

I wonder what your favorite workshop will be was?

Edited to add pictures… in the Cooking Workshop students built houses, complete with Teddy Graham people – to use as a storytelling kit. Before they could eat their creation they had to tell the story!

Building a graham cracker house - part of a storytelling kit for the Four Friends

four friends house storytelling kit

And in the Art Workshop (in 2017) we created Rainbow Scarfs to give away to someone we felt needed some extra love. Here the circles are prepared…

Four Friends - scarf project

Check out the growing list of opportunities to foster faith learning at home using this story.

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Photo credits:
A painting of our story by James Tissot, in the Public Domain, via Wikimedia Commons.
Other photos are from my archives.