9. Edward’s secret signal


Props: Three toys (a family) and a shoe box (all hidden in my special bag, and revealed on cue).

Hello children! I thought this morning I would tell you a story of the three bears. There was the big Father Bear, and the middle-sized Mama Bear, and the little Baby Bear. Actually the baby had grown up a bit. His name was Edward, although his friends called him ‘Teddy’.

Edward and his mother were very close. They went to church together, they read the Bible together, and they prayed together. Unfortunately Father Bear didn't do any of these things. He liked his friends to think he was a Christian, but he didn't work very hard at it. Sometime when he lost his temper he would use very bad language like ‘Oh blow!’ – oh no, much worse than that – I couldn’t possibly repeat it here – Mr XXX [someone in congregation] would be too shocked!

One day, Father Bear decided that they would all go for a boat ride on the nearby lake. Edward was excited – this seemed like a great idea. So they hired a small boat (a rather bigger boat might have been better!). It had oars, and a motor out the back. So off they went, putt-putting across the big lake. It was lovely: the sun was shining, the sky was blue, there were fluffy white clouds, the hills were a pretty green, and the lake was covered with little white flecks. They went for miles, when suddenly the motor went putt ... putt ... putt and stopped. Father Bear wasn't too worried; he knew all about motors. He wound the cord around and gave it a pull, but no success. Then he checked the petrol level – that was OK. Then he jiggled the throttle (you are supposed to do that!). But nothing worked. Father Bear was getting quite angry by now. He called the motor some dreadful names which I couldn’t possibly repeat here. Of course it didn’t do any good: a motor doesn’t start just because you call it bad names.

“Oh well,” said Father Bear, “It looks as though I’ll have to row all the way back.” So they changed positions, and Father Bear started to row. Father Bear was in the middle, facing backwards of course, Mother Bear was sitting by that misbehaving motor, and Edward was stuck up the front. The sun had gone behind a cloud, and there was a roll of thunder. The day had suddenly got rather gloomy.

Suddenly Edward had an idea. He caught his mother’s eye, and made a secret signal. He pointed at the motor, then he held his hands together like this [prayer position], and then he pointed up to the sky. What do you think the signal meant? Yes, he thought they should pray about the motor. His mother couldn’t give the signal back (Father Bear was looking rather angrily in her direction!),but she smiled, nodded, and said a little prayer. Edward gave the signal again, and Mother Bear turned, wrapped the starting chord around, and gave a great heave. The motor roared into life.

Father Bear was amazed. “How on earth did you do that?” he asked. “Oh,” said Mother, “I just pulled the chord. I did say a little prayer,” she added. “Fiddlesticks!” said Father Bear, “prayer couldn’t possible start a motor!” “And I prayed too,” added Edward. “What nonsense!” said Father Bear. “Why, even I couldn’t start that motor.”

They rearranged themselves in the boat, and were very happy to be setting off home again. And Father Bear started thinking: perhaps I’ve got it wrong about prayer ... . Perhaps I need to think some more about this Christianity.

So Edward’s prayer achieved two things. It got the motor started, and it also started Father Bear on the path back to God. I want you to remember a Bible verse. It is James 5:16 ... can you say that? It says (roughly!): The prayer of a good person makes a difference. A good verse to remember!

Based on the story ‘Sydney’s Secret Signal’ which appeared un The Children’s Hour with Uncle Arthur.