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God washes away our sins

by the Revd John Challis

Suitable for Whole School (Sec) - Church Schools


To show that, when we make a mistake, God washes away our sins and forgives us.

Preparation and materials

  • You will need a bottle of iodine (available from chemists).
  • Also, a bottle of photographic fixer (such as Ilford Rapid fixer, available from photography shops or online)
  • A plain white cloth hanky.
  • Two clear bowls – one containing clean water and one with water and some fixer mixed in – and a table to stand them on.
  • Note that you will need to practise the steps given below to make sure you know how to do the ‘science practical’ part!
  • Ask a member of staff to look after your hanky during the assembly, offer it when asked and pretend that it belongs to him or her.


  1. Place the two bowls, prefilled as described above, on the table before the assembly begins.

  2. Start the assembly by explaining that you have forgotten to bring a hanky and ask if you can borrow one. Your prepared member of staff is to helpfully offer ‘theirs’!

  3. Tell the children how clean it is and then pretend to sneeze into it if you want to for extra effect!

  4. Then say, God loves us so much that, when we make a mistake and we are sorry, he forgives us. Say that the hanky is a bit like us – we want to be clean and white, but we make mistakes. 

    Take the iodine bottle and sprinkle some iodine on to the hanky in a blotchy way. Apologize to the member of staff who gave you the hanky and say, ‘It’s OK because God takes away – sometimes we say washes away – our sins.’ 

    Place the hanky in the bowl with only water in it. This will make the iodine turn black and colour the hanky and even the water. 

    Pretend that you have made a mistake. Then say, ‘Well, actually, that is a bit like life. When we make one mistake, we often make more and then it just gets worse. Some people believe that they can just wash away their problems without saying sorry to God. Christians believe that when we are truly sorry and turn to God, he can wash away anything.’

  5. Take the hanky and place it in the bowl that contains both water and photographic fixer. The hanky will turn instantly white. For added effect and if you didn’t use too much plain water, you can add the dirty, dark water from the other bowl to this one and that will turn clear as well.

    Say that when we have made a mistake and we are truly sorry, God washes away those mistakes and allows us to begin all over again, make a clean start.

    Continuing the ruse, apologize to the member of staff again and say that you’ll wash the hanky and return it later!

Time for reflection

Just sit for a moment and see if you can think of something you have said or done that you are sorry for. Ask in your heart that God will forgive you. Imagine you are like the hanky, all covered in dirty spots, but then you are clean and free to live again in the love of God. 

Dear Lord,
In your love you have called us to know you, led us to trust you and bound our life with yours. 
Forgive us for our wrongdoing and set us free to live in your love.


‘He’s got the whole world’ (Come and Praise, 19)

Publication date: January 2014   (Vol.16 No.1)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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