Pentecost Proper 23; 21st Sunday after Pentecost
Scripture Reference:Â 2 Kings 5:1-13 and Luke 17:11-19
From “Scolding the Snakes” Â Â
Preparation: Bring a stamp and stamp pad. Â
Have any of you had chicken pox? Raise your hand if youâ€™ve already had chicken pox. Did you enjoy having chicken pox? Did other people have to stay away from you while you were sick? How did you look? (Let children offer responses and stories.) Having chicken pox wasnâ€™t much fun, was it?
The Bible readings for today talk about people who had a disease called leprosy. Leprosy is not something anyone would ever want to catch. Itâ€™s much more serious than chicken pox. It didnâ€™t just go away. In biblical times, when someone had leprosy, it never went away. People that had leprosy were called lepers, and others never wanted to go near them because they were afraid of catching the disease. Lepers were not very pleasant to look at. Sometimes their skin would be all lumpy and peeling; they might be missing toes or noses. These were like signs or marks that told people, â€œIâ€™m sick,â€ and when people saw those signs, they stayed far away.
Do you think lepers had many friends? How do you think they must have felt? (Let kids share.) Even though most people would not go near lepers, Jesus was different. Jesus could see that the lepers needed love and healing just like everyone else. Jesus talked to lepers, touched them, and healed them. And when Jesus healed people with leprosy, the disease was completely erased; they were well again!
None of us has leprosy, but when we do bad things, itâ€™s like having leprosy inside. We know weâ€™ve done wrong, and we feel ugly inside. We feel bad, and we feel like everyone is staring at us, like nobody loves us or wants to be around us. Have you ever felt that way after you did something wrong? (Let children respond.) Now even though no one would be able to tell from the outside that weâ€™ve done something wrong, Jesus knows. And when weâ€™ve sinned, and we ask Jesus for help, what does he do for us? He forgives us and washes away our sins completely. He heals us and makes us clean inside.
(Begin stamping ink marks on childrenâ€™s hands as you speak.) I brought a stamp pad this morning, and Iâ€™ll give each of you a mark to remind you of the people with leprosy that Jesus healed. This will remind you, too, of how Jesus heals us by forgiving our sins. Keep the mark on your hand till the end of the service, and later, when you wash your hands, remember that Jesus washes away our sins.
Prayers: Â Jesus, thank you for washing away my sins and making me healthy and whole.