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“The Tassels and the Braids!” Hebrews 10:5-10 Key verse(s): 14:“Since than time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool, because by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.”


When I was a junior in high school I was inducted into the National Honor Society. To become part of NHS you had to do certain things well. There was a certain grade point average to attain and maintain. You also needed to be involved in an enhanced level of activities and extracurriculars. It had not been my goal in particular to make NHS my first two years in high school. Although I had good grades, they could have been better. But then, at the end of my sophomore year, I had the opportunity to watch my sister’s graduation ceremonies and I remembered seeing the students with gold tassels on their caps and gold braids hanging down the front of their gowns. They had asterisks in front of their names in the program with names emboldened. These were the honor students, the ones who were in the top 20% of their class and were members of NHS. It was at that moment, as I matriculated from sophomore to junior, that I decided I wanted to be in that elite percentage. I wanted the tassel and the braids. I wanted my name to have the bold type and the asterisk. The following year as many of my friends, distracted by the war raging in Vietnam, involved themselves in debates and protests, I buried myself in my studies. I joined the newspaper and literary journal staff and became editor of both. By the end of the year my plan had worked. I had just barely made it into NHS. I knew if I really buckled down in my Senior year I might even slip into the top 20% of my class.


I can still remember the NHS induction ceremony at the end of my junior year. Meeting in the library, the group of students and teacher advisor gathered around the assembled tables as the three of us, the new inductees, stood before them. The student president of the group read our names and then repeated the NHS code of ethics. Finally, that done, the teacher advisor got up and made a few brief remarks before handing each of us our NHS pin. I will always remember his words. He talked about effort and diligence. But the one thing that stood out above all else was this statement: “You have now reached a level of perfection that will be difficult to maintain.” I’ve never forgotten that brief comment stated almost casually as he moved on to the balance of his talk. I don’t think I heard much more of what he had to say as that challenging remark stubbornly refused to let go of me. I felt uneasy in the presence of that word--”perfection!” Maybe I didn’t belong in this group after all.

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