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THE GIFT OF THE SKATES


So how do we recognize His authority in our lives? How do we express our faith and our love to Him? By committing ourselves to His mission. Jesus doesn’t say anything about saving sinners and getting them into heaven. The primary priority of his mission is to preach good news to the poor, to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners.” So why do we do what we do? Not just because it’s a good thing but because Jesus is the mashach, the Messiah. The way we recognize His Messiahship is that we give ourselves to him and his mission.


Elizabeth English tells the story of Christmas 1949 when she and her husband Herman locked the doors to their small town appliance store at 11 PM. They were dead tired and had sold out of everything including record players, bicycles, dollhouses and games. They had only one lay away package left and the person never came for it.


The next morning, Elizabeth, Herman and their 12 year old son Tom woke up and opened their gifts. But it just wasn’t the same. Tom was growing up and all he asked for was clothes and a few games. His childish exuberance of past years was gone.


As soon as breakfast was over, Tom went next door to play, Herman mumbled that he was going back to sleep and Elizabeth found herself cleaning up the aftermath of breakfast and the opened gifts. And the holiday doldrums set in.


It began to sleet with snow mixed in and the wind rattled the windows. Suddenly, she had a feeling hit her that she should go on a walk. "That's crazy," she thought, looking out the window and she fought it for an hour but finally gave in. She told her husband she was going to walk to the store. "That was crazy," he said, but she put on her coat, gloves and scarf and went anyway.


She shivered as she tucked her hands in her pocket. When she got to the store, she was surprised to see two small boys, exclaiming, "There she is. See, I told you she would come." They were half-frozen and one of the boy’s face was wet with tears.


"What are you children doing here? You should be home on a day like this!" They were poorly dressed with no hats or gloves and shoes that barely fit.


"We’ve been waiting for you. My little brother Jimmy didn’t get any Christmas gifts and we want to buy skates. We have $3, see." It broke Elizabeth’s heart to tell them that they had sold out of everything. But then the layaway package came to mind. "Wait a minute" as she went to the shelf praying that they would be the right size. And miracle upon miracle, they were. They were a perfect fit.


When they handed the money over, Elizabeth refused to take it, and she was rewarded with awe and wonder and joy in the boy’s eyes when they realized she was giving them the skates. "Now take that money and get some gloves!" she said. Then she said to the boys, "How lucky you were that I came."


"I knew you would come," the older boy said.


"How?"


"I asked Jesus to send you."


And upon hearing that tingles went down Elizabeth’s spine. God had planned this. As they waved goodbye, she turned home to a brighter Christmas than she had left. Family and friends soon arrived, and we had a delicious diner and a wonderful time. But the one thng that made that Christmas really joyous was the one thing which makes every Christmas wonderful--Jesus was there.


(From a sermon by Tim Smith, Good News to the Poor, 10/19/2009)

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