First, let me give credit where it’s due. This isn’t my story. I stole it from Rev. Phil Stenberg, who used to offer this little parable every year on Stewardship Sunday as the children’s sermon. I publish this story here so that the first paragraph of my sermon, “Ten Per Cent Return” makes sense. It needs props: ten apples. They need to be small, but not too small.
So, here’s the parable, as I received it from Phil, along with instructions for telling it:
Once upon a time, there was a man who had nothing … and God gave him ten apples. He gave him three apples to eat, three to trade for shelter from the sun and rain, and three apples to trade for clothing to wear. He gave him one apple so that the man might have something to give back to God to show his gratitude for the other nine.
The man ate three apples (distribute apples to three children). He traded three for a shelter from the sun and the rain (distribute these, too). He traded three for clothing to wear (hand out three more apples). Then he looked at the tenth apple. It seemed bigger and juicier than the rest. He knew that God had given him the tenth apple so he could return it to God out of gratitude for the other nine. But the tenth apple looked bigger, and juicier than the rest. And he reasoned that God had all the other apples in the world …
so the man ate the tenth apple
(this is where you must actually eat the apple as the children watch)
– and gave God back the core.
(Place the apple core in a prominent place, where it can be seen throughout the remainder of the worship service.)