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Have you heard the story of the incident that took place in a Church youth group in Akron, Ohio, at Christmas time? What took place started a tradition in that church, a pattern for us to follow.

The high school boy's name was Howard, but he was best known as "Runkie". He had no family, so he made the church his family. He was one of those guys that never seemed to quite fit in. He attended youth meetings regularly, but made no close friends. He always stood outside any circle of young people, laughing when they laughed, but never moving into their circles. He had some childish ways and was socially inept.

But one Christmas season, the minister talked to their youth group. As he was speaking, making his point, he would gesture toward a large nativity scene that had been set up at the front of the room, and he would ask while making his gesture "Who will come and kneel in front of Jesus today?"

Runkie didn't understand that the speaker wasn't expecting an answer, so the next time the preacher posed the question, Runkie went forward innocently and knelt in front of the Nativity scene. The preacher stopped. The silence caused Runkie to look to the preacher and said to him, "I'm sure some of these kids will want to kneel too." And pretty quickly everyone came forward to kneel with Runkie. Afterwards, several of the kids came to Runkie and said "You really did a good thing! That took courage. Thanks!" Runkie became accepted in the youth group from then on, with a huge smile on his face.

But this joy was short-lived, because he became seriously ill and died a few months later. But that tradition, that example, has been observed ever since in that Church at Christmas time. It's called "kneeling with Runkie."

From John Moyer's Sermon, "The Tree to Remember at Christmas"

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