Being a crippled woman was tough, so was keeping the rules of Sabbath. These games can be used to explore the various issues around the story, from the bondage of sickness to the validity of rules.
Every seven – Sit in a circle (preferably on the floor) and explain that this game is about finding a Sabbath day of rest. Have a leader assign a place of work (hospital, classroom, home, garden etc) and then going round the circle the children need to call out a related action and have the group mimic it. Every seventh child shouts rest and the group lay on the floor. eg. place of work = playground, child 1 run (stand up on spot run for a few steps, group mimics), child 2 skip, child 3 play football, child 4 blow a whistle, child 5 play tag (tags person next to them), child 6 climb, child seven rest (children rest until leader calls out new location.
Bent over – This is a two team race. Have your children put their right hand on their left knee, bandage in place for older children if desired. Then get your children to line up according to their new height. Starting with the tallest, pass a ball along along the row asking the participants to pass the ball over their heads, once at one end have the participant run to the front of the line and repeat until the tallest is again at the front.
Invisible Chains – this is a game of the imagination where parts of your body are either chained or stuck together. Start by saying everyone has their lips chained together, make faces as you try and break them apart. However much we try only Jesus can set us free. Use an object to represent Jesus, as they touch it their chain falls off. Choose a few people to be minor jailers, each can only chain one person at a time by first catching them and then giving them clear instructions. Keep hold of the Jesus object yourself, youngsters can be healed by making their way back to you. With older children you can link this directly back to the verse 16 and Satan binding the crippled woman.
Silly rules – Split your children into small groups and have them make up a silly rule that everyone in the room must follow while dancing to a song. Explain to them that the rule must be silly but also possible. Put each groups suggestion into a contained and pick one at random. Play the song for one minute then stop. Ask the children if they can find a good defence why the rule should be dropped before finishing the song. If one person can find a defence move onto the next rule and repeat.
Pass the parcel – Link this traditional game to the idea that Sabbath is a gift from God. Try and put something in the inside that can be shared with all the children, make the gift inclusive not exclusive – link to the religious leads making Sabbath a time of exclusivity.