By Bethany B.
It was Christmas Eve and thirteen year old Sarah was sitting at the window looking gloomily at the snowflakes falling outside in the sunset. Behind her, the Christmas tree was dazzling with lights and her older brother and sister were finishing the decorating. That was why she was so unhappy, her brother and sister. She loved them, most definitely, but she was tired of what they were doing. They quarreled, and not just some of the time, all the time. Sarah wished that she could help them, but she wasn't sure how. She wished she could bring peace to her whole family, but wasn't sure how to do that either. She finally decided she couldn't stand it anymore. "I'd like to go for a walk, Mama; would that be okay with you?"
"Of course, Sarah. Please don't stay out too late okay?"
" Yes Mama; thanks." She slipped on her coat and headed out the door breathing a sigh of relief as she did so. "It's awful to be glad that I'm out of there. I wonder what tomorrow will be like. Maybe I'll go over to the Christmas Eve service." Sarah thought as she wandered along. Soon she reached the church that she and her family attended on Sundays. Music floated out as she slipped in the door and took a seat in the back.
As she did so, the choir finished singing and the pastor came to the front. "I'm going to read from Hebrews today, and even though you may think it strange I think that it will be fitting for what I have to say." Then he began to read. "Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God." There was a moment of silence and then he spoke again, "Jesus is the founder and perfecter of our faith, and with that faith we are to lay aside everything and run the race he has set before us. Look to Jesus, the only really reliable example that there is when you think about it. He endured all the pain, all the shame, and all the hardship that was set before him, and is now seated at the right hand of the throne of God. The same goes for us too, despite all the trials and hardships in life, be joyful and endurant and then, if our faith is truly real, we will go to live in heaven with God forever!"
Sarah sat transfixed as she had never heard the Christmas story in this way this before.
The pastor was speaking again and his voice brought her back to the present. "This is why Jesus was born, this is why God sent his son to take away all our sin, so that we could be close to him once more! He loves us so much that even though we did not listen to him in the garden of Eden he already had a plan and was willing to send his son, his only son, to take away forever all the sin of the world! Ladies and gentlemen, this is what we celebrate on Christmas Day; this is what we are celebrating all the time!"
As the pastor closed in prayer, Sarah slipped out of the church and went a few steps down the road. Then she stopped and knelt on the side. "Lord Jesus," she whispered "I am a wretched sinner and am in dire need of a savior. Thank you for the wonderful gift that you offer to all who choose to accept it. Please give me your gift of life forever with you, and thank you so much for bringing me here so that I could hear the message of your eternal life." A sudden thought sprang into her head, "Please allow me to be able to share this message with someone else who hasn't heard it before. Thank you, thank you, thank you, in your name I pray Amen." There were tears in her eyes as she rose and started for home, tears of gladness and peace and thankfulness that she had never experienced before.
As Sarah stepped in the door of their house something seemed different, then it came to her, it was quiet! Wondering, she went upstairs to the bedroom that she shared with her older sister, Faith. She opened the door and then closed it behind her, Faith was sitting on the bed crying. "Why, whatever is the matter, Faith?" Sarah asked in surprise.
"Oh Sarah, I've been simply awful to Mark. I'm sure he won't ever forgive me for being so horrible, Oh Sarah, it doesn't seem like Christmas Eve at all." Faith broke down and cried bitterly.
Sarah sat down on the bed next to her and spoke gently but excitedly. "I went to the Christmas Eve service this evening and was really blessed by the message." She launched into a full account of the sermon, how amazing the news was, and how she had asked Jesus into her heart. When she had finished Faith was silent for a minute, then she said brokenly,
"I'm sorry Sarah, I've been a bad sister to you too, please forgive me."
"Of course I will!"
"And would you please pray with me, Sarah? I want to ask Jesus into my heart too." Faith turned toward her pleadingly.
"I'd love to," Sarah said, giving her a hug.
When Sarah left the room a little while later her heart was singing and there was a smile on her face, "Thank you Jesus for the opportunity to share" she prayed quietly as she went downstairs. When she reached the kitchen she found Mark, her older brother, sitting at the table with his head in his hands.
"What's wrong Mark?" She asked.
"I've been awful to Faith lately, Sarah," he replied looking up. "Do you think you could help me?"
"Gladly." Sarah smiled as she sat down at the table and prepared, for the second time, to share about God's wonderful gift of salvation to us. This was how she could bring peace to her family, and with God's help she would do it with all her heart.