Bear Burdens: Man on the Mat (Mark 2:1-12)

Bear Burdens:  Man on the Mat (Mark 2:1-12)

For the second of five weeks, our parish has been supporting our youth in prayer as they journey to the ELCA National Youth Gathering in Detroit, Michigan.  This is a life-changing experience of worship, service, and reflection for over 30,000 high school youth and adults.  For the next five weeks of Family God Time, we will explore the key Bible stories for each day of the Gathering  (If you missed last week, go to

Supplies:  God Time pillows, candle and holder (see “Gathering,” below), My First Hands-On Bible (or other children’s or family Bible), access to the internet, old bath or beach towels and a bucket of water (or a small amount of oil)

Gather:  We like to sit in a circle on the floor for God Time.  Finding some pillows or cushions to sit on makes it even more comfortable.  My kids like to use pillow pets for this purpose!  Once you are in a circle, light a candle (or turn on a battery-operated one; we use an LED tea light in a pretty metal container).

Story:  Read the story of “Jesus Heals a Man Who Couldn’t Walk” in My First Hands-On Bible or another children’s or family Bible.  If you are using the My First Hands-On Bible, feel free to do the activities and questions described there.  If you don’t have a children’s Bible, check out this version:  Mark 2:1-12

Discuss:  Do you know anyone who can’t walk?  What do they need to help them?  How can you be a help to them?  Are you the kind of friend who would do something like this to help out?  What are some ways that you could help your friends?

Song:   One of my favorite prayer songs is “What a Friend We Have in Jesus.”  We do the following motions:

What a friend (sign friend:  interlocking pointer fingers)
we have in Jesus (sign Jesus:  alternating point to wounds on hands)
All our sins and griefs to bear (bend over like under something heavy)
What a privilege to carry (both arms front)
Everything to God in prayer (arms out and up)

Oh, peace we often forfeit (“peace” sign, cross arms and out)
Oh what needless pain we bear (under heavy load)
All because we do not carry (arms front)
Everything to God in prayer (arms out and up)

Or you can see the actions and hear the tune on youtube:

Activity:  Man on a Mat Relay    

We are going to act out the story as a game today.  Set up a starting line and a turn-around line.  Two people will drag the person across the grass on a beach towel, someone will be on the beach towel, and someone will be the blesser.  Lay out the towel and have one person lay on the towel with their head facing the turn-around line.  Two people will prepare to pull, while another will be at the turn-around line with a bucket of water.  When everyone is ready, let the pullers pull the person to the turn-around line (watch their head!).  When they get there, the blesser will sprinkle water over the person on the towel and say “You have been healed and forgiven!  Take up your mat and walk!”  Then, the team rolls up the mat and runs back to the starting line carrying it.  Everyone switches places and begins again, until everyone has had a chance to try each role.  If it is raining, you can do it inside and bless with oil instead of water.  Have fun!

When we did this activity, it was actually too hot to be outside.  Here are our pictures of the fun:

Man on the Mat #2 Man on the Mat #1

Prayer:  (You can do this all together, or as a “repeat after me” prayer, depending on reading ability) Dear Jesus, we thank you for healing the man on the mat, and for his faithful friends.  Help those who are at the National Youth Gathering to learn to bear each other’s burdens.  In your name we pray, Amen.


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