Wednesday, December 20, 2017


“For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” ~ Luke 19:10
Sarah was nearing the end of her 6th and final year of teaching.  She’d realized earlier this year that she’d been unhappy with work and cranky towards her pupils.
Students cringed as she graded their work because Sarah could no longer hide the disappointment in her face.  All too often she took derogatory jabs at failing or disruptive kids rather than giving them a new chance every day.  Her tenure was turning her into a dreadful person; her students deserved better.
Even as she pondered her final Christmas in the classroom, she wasn’t sure if teaching had finally worn her down to a bitter shell of the cheerful newbie she’d been once, or if she was just ready to move on.  Even yesterday’s assignment for them to identify the greatest Christmas present ever given, seemed to validate her cynicism.
This morning Sarah gazed at the class as if their faces had become an expanse of nothingness.  Most would describe gifts that were exorbitantly expensive.  Few would suggest gifts that required any deep thought.
She was nearly correct.
Ryan suggested the Black Diamond iPhone covered in gems and an incredible black diamond valued at over $15,300,000.  Sandra offered something less luxurious but equally excessive – the world’s most exclusive dog collar featuring 1,600 diamonds including a 7-carat centerpiece for $3.2 million.
Braden proposed a New Year’s party for 300 friends on the rooftop of a hotel overlooking Time Square at the eye-dropping cost of $1.6 million.  And Itsuki’s idea for Dolce sunglasses at $383,609 would certainly blow a hole in most holiday shopping budgets.
The presentations continued monotonously – expensive cars, extreme vacations, massive big-screen TVs; an alligator backpack ($47,000) and gold shoelaces ($19,000).
But when it came to Mandy’s turn, the shy, thoughtful girl spoke without hesitation.  “The Wise Men brought the unusual gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh to Jesus.  But their gifts were not gifts to the Child.  The first Christmas gift was the gift of the child.”
“Christmas in its purest state,” she continued, “is a promise that no earthly thing can satisfy.  The true meaning of Christmas is that Jesus Christ, God himself, came to earth to be born into the human race.  In fact, ‘Emmanuel’ means “God is with us!”
It’s better than anything Nieman Marcus could offer.  It is the only thing that truly keeps on giving: the gift of eternal life.
The room went quiet.  Heads nodded in embarrassed agreement.
Sarah’s eyes lit up; a million new ideas were streaming through her brain.  She’d felt something new, something amazing, something long ago forgotten – inspiration, rejuvenation, pure joy.  She’d received her Christmas gift early and would have to rethink her retirement from teaching.
“Dear God, grant me an abundance of Your wisdom.  Prepare my heart to encourage these young people and give me grace as I help those who aren’t thriving, courage to say what needs to be said, and patience when I’m intolerant.” ~ Sarah