2. Bad Habits

Props: Reel of black cotton, scissors, sweet treat.

Now today I need a helper. Who would like to be my helper? Actually, I have a little reward for my helper ... . Thanks Sophie, come and sit up here by me. Now I want you to hold your hands out in front of you with your wrists together, like this.

I’m going to wrap this cotton around your wrists, just once, and I'll hold it in place. Now you pull your hands apart and try to break it. Bravo! [Spontaneous applause from congregation!] That wasn't hard, was it?

Now, let’s try again. I’ll wrap the cotton around twice, and you see if you can break it. Yes [applause], we have Supergirl here!

Now, what if I wrap it around five times? That's too hard I see. But all is not lost. I can use these scissors to set you free. [Do it.] Thanks Sophie, you can sit back down now.

Now boys and girls, this black cotton stands for what the Bible calls sin: that is, bad and naughty things that we do. I can see that you are all angels, and would never do anything wrong(!), but perhaps you can tell me some bad and naughty things that other children of your age might do. ...

Hitting someone? Yes, perhaps you might hit your brother or sister when they annoy you.

Throwing stones? That would be another bad thing.

What about telling lies? I remember getting dried after a bath when I was little, and my Mum looked at my ears and said, “Paul, do you wash your ears with a flannel?” Ridiculous, I thought, fingers are much better! But I thought ‘flannel’ was the right answer, so I said, “Yes.” Mum answered, “Never use a flannel to wash your ears ...!” See, I should have told the truth.

And what about biting your girl friend? I did this once, or so I’m told. I was only two, and I had a little girl friend called Brenda, who I bit. She broke off our friendship after this! Obviously a bad thing to do.

Now let's get back to the cotton. If you do something lots of times, it becomes very hard to break the habit, just like it was hard to break the cotton. I should say that it is not impossible: God will help us break a bad habit. It is like He comes in with a pair of scissors and snips the habit through. But it is not always easy. How much better to stop after the first or second time you do some thing wrong, before the habit gets formed. Then it’s easy to break.

Jesus taught his disciples to pray: Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. That means, Lord, keep us away from the bad and naughty things!

Here’s you reward Sophie ... . Thank you for helping.