Invite the children to sit on the steps of the chancel. Bring a stuffed, toy rabbit and your old teddy bear to place facing each other on a railing or chair, for all to see.
Adapted from an extract from the ‘Velveteen Rabbit’, by Margery Williams (1881-1944) ….
Good morning. Let’s listen in on a conversation between the rabbit and bear. It sounds to me like the rabbit has come to the bear for some advice.
Have you ever gone to someone when something bad has happened between you and a friend? Or, you didn’t understand something about growing up? And you want some help in figuring out what to do?
Let’s listen ….
“What is Real?” asked the Rabbit one day. “Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and always make you happy?”
“Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Bear. “It’s a thing that happens to you. When someone loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.”
“Does it hurt?” asked the Rabbit. “Because your hair looks worn out, and there are patches missing.”
“Sometimes,” said the Bear, for he was always truthful. “When you are Real you know that you’ll sometimes get hurt.”
“Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,” he asked, “or bit by bit?”
“It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Bear. “You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in your joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”
“I suppose you are real?” said the Rabbit. And then he wished he had not said it, for he thought the Bear only smiled. “Someone made me Real,” he said. “That was a great many years ago; but once you are Real you can’t become unreal again. It lasts for always.”
When I was born, my parents gave me this teddy bear. And all the while I was growing up, this bear stayed close to me. I’ve hugged it lots over the years! I know to be loved by me wasn’t always easy for my bear: he lost hair, once one of his ears fell off, and his eyes popped out — and had to be re-attached; his blue ribbon faded. But he sure was loved!
God loves you for always. But that doesn’t mean life will always be easy. The important thing to remember is that God will forever hold you close to his heart, no matter what. And in the meantime, you will become Real — a real strong and loveable person!