The Parable of Piglet and Eeyore - by James Archer
This is a children's talk for an all-age service on the theme of being filled with the Holy Spirit, finishing with a confession. Like most parables, it is a good story which will stick in the mind and give opportunities to think about the spiritual points. Like most children's talks for all-age services, whilst it is ostensibly for the children, it is also aimed squarely at adults, particularly those whose hearts traditional sermons do not reach. It follows a reading from Ezekiel 37:1-14 about a valley full of dry bones.
You will need to have a packet of balloons. You should have blown up at least one a few days before so that it has had time to go all saggy, and should have blown up and burst another.
Would the children like to come to the front for a story? Now, grown-ups, you need to know that this is a parable of faith with several potential interpretations. I wonder what God might be saying to you through it?
This story comes from Winnie The Pooh by AA Milne, chapter 6 – I've shortened it a bit. Pooh and Piglet have discovered that it is Eeyore's birthday.
"I'm giving this pot to Eeyore," said Pooh, "as a present. What are you going to give him?"
"Couldn't I give it too?" said Piglet. "From both of us?"
"No," said Pooh. "That would not be a good plan."
"All right then. I'll give him a balloon. I've got one left from my party. I'll go and get it now, shall I?"
"That, Piglet, is a very good idea. It's just what Eeyore wants to cheer him up. Nobody can be uncheered by a balloon."
So off Piglet trotted to his own house to get Eeyore's balloon. He held it very tightly against himself, so that it shouldn't blow away, and he ran as fast as he could so as to get to Eeyore before Pooh did; for he thought that he would like to be the first one to give a present, just as if he had thought of it without being told by anybody. And, running along and thinking how pleased Eeyore would be, he didn't look where he was going … and suddenly, he put his foot in a rabbit hole and fell down flat on his face.
"Well, that's funny," he thought. "I wonder what that bang was. I couldn't have made such a noise just falling down. And, where's my balloon? And what's that small damp piece of rag doing?"
It was the balloon!
"Oh dear," said Piglet. "Oh dear, oh dearie dearie dear. Well, it's too late now. I can't go back, and I haven't another balloon, and perhaps Eeyore doesn't like balloons so very much."
So he trotted on, rather sadly now, and down he came to the side of the stream where Eeyore was, and called out to him.
"Good morning Eeyore!" shouted Piglet.
"Good morning Piglet," said Eeyore. "If it is a good morning," he said. "Which I doubt," he said. "Not that it matters," he said.
"Many happy returns of the day!" said Piglet.
"Meaning me?" said Eeyore.
"Of course, Eeyore."
"Me having a real birthday?"
"Yes, Eeyore, and I brought you a present – a balloon."
"Balloon?" said Eeyore. "Did you say a balloon? One of those big coloured things you blow up? Gaiety, song and dance, here we are, there we are?"
"Yes, but I'm afraid – I'm very sorry, Eeyore, but when I was running along to bring it to you, I fell down."
"Dear dear, how unlucky! You ran too fast, I expect. You didn't hurt yourself, did you?"
"No, but I – I – oh Eeyore, I burst the balloon!"
"My balloon?" said Eeyore at last.
"My birthday balloon?"
"Yes Eeyore," said Piglet sniffing a little. "Here it is. With – many happy returns of the day." And he gave Eeyore the small piece of damp rag.
There was a very long silence.
"Is this it?" said Eeyore, a little surprised.
Piglet nodded again.
"Thank you, Piglet."
Just then, Pooh arrived with another present for Eeyore, a useful pot. When Eeyore saw the pot, he became quite excited.
"Why!" he said. "I believe my balloon will just go into that pot."
"Oh no, Eeyore," said Pooh. "Balloons are much too big to go into pots. What you do with balloons is, you hold the balloon …"
"Not mine," said Eeyore proudly. "Look, Piglet!" And as Piglet looked sorrowfully round, Eeyore picked the balloon up with his teeth and placed it carefully in the pot; picked it out and put it on the ground; picked it up again and put it carefully back.
"So it does!" said Pooh. "It goes in."
"So it does!" said Piglet. "And it comes out."
But Eeyore wasn't listening. He was taking the balloon out, and putting it back again, as happy as could be ….
Now, children – have any of you ever felt a bit like Piglet or Eeyore or the balloon in that story? In what way? [Improvise in reply to whatever is suggested, and prompt possible answers if necessary.]
We had a story from the bible earlier, and I've got a really difficult question for you. What is the connection between the two stories? [The answer is breath – the breath of God into the army, the breath needed to blow up a balloon. You may need to ask adults to get the answer.]
Now, as Pooh says, you can't be uncheered by a balloon. And the good news is that I've brought along some balloons with me. And the question I want to ask is: which balloon gives the best picture of your faith or your relationship with God? I need a couple of grown-up volunteers with nimble fingers who can tie up balloons. [Hand out balloons and bring out ones already done. Watch what is happening and pick out some points from what you see – see confession below for tips. After a while, calm the children down and get them seated again.]
Now, we're going to sit still and pray to God and tell him how we feel about him, our faith and our relationship with him.
Some of us feel like a burst balloon, with just a limp rag to bring to God.
Some of us feel like we are only partly blown up or lopsided, and don't look like we are meant to.
Some of us have been blown up fully but have become saggy or baggy.
Some of us have been blown up, but the knot was never tied, and we've made a great deal of noise getting to where we were before.
Some of us have huffed and puffed but have always resisted being blown up.
Some of us have a hole in, so the breath goes straight through us.
Some of us have never been blown up, or are still in the packet.
We're sorry when we don't look like you want us to be;
We're sorry for the things we've done that make you sad;
We thank you that like Eeyore you make the most of how we are.
Fill us, we pray, with the breath of your Holy Spirit,
And make us beautiful for you,
Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
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