Mr Sweet owned a quaint old shop on the corner of a quiet street, where he sold all kinds of sweets. He used to play a game with his customers, mostly children from the school just up the road. He would try to guess what kind of person they were by the kind of sweets they bought.
Each day when school finished, the children would rush into the shop to spend their pocket money buying their favourite sweets. Over the years Mr Sweet had come to know the names of some of the children and he gradually came to understand what they were like by the kind of sweets they bought.
A new delivery of sweets had arrived that morning so Mr Sweet filled up the tall jars with a variety of sugary delights and covered the counter with chocolate bars and candy, ready for the ‘mad dash’ of the boys and girls.
Eric was usually in the shop first. Eric’s favourites were bubble gum and gob stoppers. Mr Sweet thought that these suited Eric’s character quite well. Listening to the kids chatting in the shop it became clear that Eric was the chatterbox and was always talking in class instead of getting on with his work. Sometimes his chattering got him, and his class, into trouble with the teacher and the whole class were made to stay behind after school. Sometimes his classmates wished he had one of his favourite gob-stoppers in his mouth during class. Mr sweet imagined that Eric’s mum might have encouraged him to buy those particular sweets so that she could have a bit of peace and quiet sometimes.
A queue had begun to form behind Eric. Hazel was next in line. “I’d like a quarter of apple tarts and a quarter of lemon drops.” she said, looking rather dower or you might say ‘sour.’ Mr Sweet imagined that Hazel was a bitter person. A neighbour had told him one day that the reason for Hazel’s bitterness and sometimes anger was because her dad had left home. He had left her mum to raise her and her brother alone taking all her mum’s hard earned savings with him when he left. After hearing about Hazel’s sad story whenever she came into the shop he would always pop extra sweets into her bag. He would give her well over the quarter she had asked for. Mr Sweet was a generous and kind-natured man.
Next up to the counter was Peter who tended to push and shove his way around. He had pushed a smaller child out of the way to get to the counter now. Mr Sweet could tell that the other children were a little scared of Peter and allowed him to push past them. He wasn’t just pushy with boys but with the girls too. “I would like two large chocolate bars – you know, the ones that are not for girls.” he said in a gruff voice. Peter was a ‘chocoholic’ - he never bought anything that didn’t have chocolate in it, or on it. Peter’s face was a huge grin as he removed the wrapper, bit into the chocolate bar as he left the shop.
Ruby was next. She liked marshmallows. She was a mellow kind of person.
Jonah liked those hot sweets that taste like cough mixture and also cough candy. But then he often suffered from bad coughs - so what could be better?
Mimi liked peppermints. In fact mints of any kind. And just like her favourite sweets she was hot when it came to answering questions - right on the button and very bright. Mimi would pose a question to Mr Sweet “What do you get when you cross a sheep with a kangaroo?” she said.
“I really don’t know,” replied Mr Sweet “What DO you get when you cross a sheep and a kangaroo?
“Why,” Mimi laughed “a woolly jumper.”
Mr Sweet laughed too, one of his hearty laughs. “You would make a good Santa Claus with a laugh like that” said Mimi - quick on the button as usual.
Last in the queue was Sarah. ‘What a sweet little girl’ thought Mr Sweet as Sarah approached the counter. Sarah’s hair was all ringlets, tied up with pretty pink bows.
“I would like a quarter of strawberries and cream, please and a quarter of rhubarb and custard” she said, in a very sweet, polite voice. Sarah had a sweet tooth, Mr Sweet thought. She smiled and laughed nervously. And it was then that Mr Sweet noticed that Sarah’s teeth were not as white as they once were, but had become a little brown.
Mr Sweet said “You know, if you eat to many sugary sweets your teeth will eventually fall out.”
“I know” she replied, “my parents have already told me that. In fact my mum is taking me to the dentist tomorrow at 2.30 (tooth hurty?)
“Well,” said Mr Sweet, “it is very good idea to have your teeth looked at. Otherwise you might end up losing them like me.” and he showed Sarah the holes and gaps in his own teeth.
“Oh dear,” she exclaimed “I don’t want to lose my teeth.” and she ran out of the shop.
Mrs Sweet had been out shopping and had arrived back at the shop ready to take over while Mr Sweet went into the parlour for a well-earned rest. Mrs Sweet usually ran the shop once the mad rush was over with the kids after school.
Mr Sweet sat down in his cosy chair in front of a nice coal fire and opened a packet of his favourite sweets - liquorice allsorts. Just as he was about to put one in his mouth he thought to himself:
‘It takes all sorts of people to make this world. Different races, different personalities and different characters.’
The Bible makes it clear that every person was designed by God and made in his image. And yet we are all different - all unique. Just like every liquorice allsort in the bag is different, so are people.
Mr Sweet thought it such a joy to meet the different people that came into his little shop. The children were all so different - some he liked better than others.
But God’s love is the same for everyone - no matter what we are like. God loves us all unconditionally. Because we are all different, and all unique….to God.