Each of our days during VBS will have a theme: even when ______, Jesus loves you. So the story that goes with today is the story of Jesus healing the ten lepers.
This should be a fun lesson to teach. I bought 4000 orange dot stickers from Staples and cut them into strips of six. Each kid will get a strip of stickers to put spots on themselves. Then we’ll pretend (jokingly, of course) that the spots a like leprosy. And people with leprosy were left out. The crew leaders (both people from our Flatirons team as well as some staff there) will be the healthy people that are having fun, getting to spend time together, playing, and getting to go see Jesus. Then the kids will see how Jesus noticed the lepers and healed them.
In preparing for the lessons, I tried hard to not only learn the story but think about it and what God’s trying to teach ME by making me put a magnifying glass on certain portions of his Word.
I thought about what it means to be left out. How we’ve all felt left out at some time or another. I’ll admit mine – which is actually kind of silly if I actually think about it.
I feel jealous when I learn that friends have hung out without me. Wait wait, don’t let your brain get ahead of where I’m going here. This isn’t them purposely excluding me from things. It’s that they happened to get together in twos and threes to build their own friendships with each other. And gee whiz Alissa, that’s totally fine! You love your friends, but you don’t need to be a part of every aspect of their lives! They can have other friends. It doesn’t mean they love you less. See how it’s kind of silly?
But I feel left out because I love spending time with them so much. And even though I get to spend a lot of time with them, I always wish it could be more. (Looking forward to heaven when we can hang out together forever, ya know?) And I wish that I could be part of the fun they have even if it’s just that they went out for a guys night (and you’re a girl, Alissa – your presence would be counter to the entire purpose of it being a guys night 😛 ). But I still feel like I’m missing out on something.
Then I thought about the people I know that get left out. I have some people in my life that I don’t make the extra effort to try to include even though I should. People that I know are lonely and feeling left out and looking to be included.
Being a leper in Biblical times must have been awful. You’re separated from your family, friends, and community. You could see them at a distance, but without internet it’s would be hard to maintain those relationships. And if they threw a festival in the city, you couldn’t go to it. I mean, eventually you would probably build your own new community within the leper colony and who knows maybe those lepers threw one heck of a Leprosy Day Parade, but you’d still be leaving all you know and everyone you love behind.
No wonder the words that they cried out to Jesus were not “Please heal us!” but “Have mercy on us!” In addition to the pain and suffering caused by their condition, they must have been equally or even more broken on the inside.
Even when you’re left out, Jesus loves you.
Makes me think about who I am leaving out, and how I can include them like Jesus would. To be honest, sometimes I don’t want to include them. Not because they’re bad people or anything; just because I don’t click with them the way I click with some others.
The interesting thing is that I truly believe that every person on the planet God made to be pretty amazing. Have you ever read Humans of New York? Every person has a story that makes them who they are. And if we let them tell their story, we get to understand them a little better. And I think if we truly took the time to get to know people, we would find that we liked them. Maybe not all parts of them because we’re all flawed, but we would be able to see them as they are meant to be seen: as beautiful and beloved creations of God.
Please pray for today’s VBS, and ask God if he’s directing you to include anyone who’s been left out.