So often he would come to the after school program with head hung low and a dark cloud over him—it had been a bad day at school. Then there were the bright days when he eagerly grabbed a book, looking for an interested adult to listen to him as he read aloud at a level far beyond his six years. ups, downs, unpredictability. Smiles to tears, and vice versa, bringing challenges to mom, grandpa, and teachers alike. Disruptions and more than one heart-to-heart talk with the lead teacher of the program were the norm.

Little Lamar was so volatile. Would it be safe to assign a key role to him in the upcoming pageant, “Meet Me at the Manger?” What if he were in a funk? Would he focus and be up to the challenge? Would he try to pull something? Teacher and pageant director, Nancy Smith, boldly cast Lamar as the lead wise man in the upcoming pageant. not until he and about 40 of his peers were in the chancel that December morning would anyone know whether it had been too risky to depend on Lamar.

The music and the parts were sung and presented with gusto. now it was time for the wise men to be front and center, with Lamar in the lead. With confidence, he led the other magi as they followed the star to the Christ child. Lines were spoken perfectly and the staging was beyond expectation. The wise men approached the manger, and it was little Lamar who, ever so reverently, took his place by the manger and fell to his knees. The look on his face of utter awe and respect as he presented his gift to the baby Jesus was priceless. And, the staff, who had invested so much in this unpredictable first grader, breathed a big sigh of relief. They had believed in him, and his gifts shined as he knelt by the manger.

Pastor Mary Janz