Thank You for Medicine!
An assembly from the Culham St Gabriel archive
Suitable for Whole School (Pri)
To consider the life of Jesse Boot and the importance of medicines.
Preparation and materials
You will need to retell the story found in Acts 3.1-10 or read the story directly from the Bible.
You will need two volunteers to perform the sketch in the ‘Assembly’, Step 3. They will need time to rehearse prior to the assembly.
Have available the following images and the means to display them during the assembly:
- Jesse Boot, available at: https://tinyurl.com/y8hhsdsw
- Boots, the chemist’s, available at: https://tinyurl.com/y8ac24lm
Begin by sharing with the children the story of Peter and John found in Acts 3.1-10. You could do this by reading out the story yourself or by involving three children in dramatizing the narrative, either through a series of tableaux or simple mime. (If you choose to dramatize the story, you will need to rehearse this beforehand.)
After sharing the story with the children, tell them that, although many Christians believe that God still heals people miraculously, he also heals people through the work of doctors and medicines.
Ask the children to imagine what it would be like if the following happened when they next visited the doctor’s.
Invite the two volunteers to come and act out the following short sketch.
Scene: a doctor’s surgery. Doctor and Patient sit opposite one another across a table.
Doctor: Well, Mr Smith, I’ve made a thorough examination and I feel that I now know for certain what is wrong with you.
Patient: Is it serious, doctor?
Doctor: Not really, but there is now a very effective medicine that cures almost 100 per cent of such cases. You might say it was a miracle cure.
Patient: Great! So, when can I start taking the medicine?
Doctor: Well, straightaway . . . after you’ve paid 50,000 pounds.
Patient: 50,000 pounds?!
Doctor: Yes. A trifle expensive, I know, but this medicine cost billions of pounds to produce. It was discovered after years of research by a team of scientists working in the Amazon rainforest. They then spent years testing it in the labs to see if it really did work. A special factory had to be built to produce the medicine, and then the company had to spend even more money telling people about it. All these things add up, you know.
Patient: But I haven’t got 50,000 pounds! That’s more than I earn in a whole year!
Doctor: Oh dear, that is unfortunate. No money, no medicine. No medicine, no chance. Sorry about that.
Patient: But what can I do?
Doctor: Well, you could always pray for a miracle.
This scene might seem comical to us today because we have the National Health Service, which treats most ill people free of charge. However, this has not always been the situation in the UK.
Just over 100 years ago, most people could not afford medicines to treat common illnesses. As a consequence, many people died unnecessarily. One young man from Nottingham was very concerned about this. His name was Jesse Boot. He was a Christian who believed that it was wrong that doctors and chemists charged so much for their medicines. So, when he opened his first chemist’s shop in Nottingham in 1877, he sold medicines at half price. This first shop was a great success, forcing other chemists to lower their prices, too. Before long, there were Boots chemists all over the country and today, the Boots logo can be seen in almost every town and city in the UK. Jesse Boot became a very wealthy man, but he used much of his money to improve the lives and the health of people less fortunate than himself.
Time for reflection
Thanks to the work of people like Jesse Boot and those who established the National Health Service, very few people in the UK are unable to get the medicines that they need. However, this is not the case in some countries. In different parts of the world, many people die every year of common illnesses because they can’t afford the medicines that they need. Also, some of the medicines that they need no longer work very well because diseases become resistant to them. Many drug companies are not interested in improving medicines for illnesses that affect only poor people. Fortunately, there are many people who work hard to make these essential medicines affordable and effective.
Please bless the work of doctors and chemists, especially those who are caring for the poorest people in your world.
We are thankful that we can have what we need when we are ill.
Help us to remember those who cannot.
We pray for a fairer world, in which saving lives is more important than making money.
In Acts 3.1-10, following the crippled beggar’s healing, he is reported to have walked and jumped through the temple courts, praising God. Therefore, in memory of him and in honour of God, choose a suitably familiar and upbeat song of praise.