This year I took a slightly different approach. Since my sophomores needed to study short stories, I decided to make the hymn analysis a parallel assignment. They researched their assigned hymns, learned what they could about the authors and their motivations for writing. They also had to connect the hymn to Scripture. Then, as a twist, they had to use what they learned about the essence of short stories and create a story about the hymns they were assigned. All of the stories were creative and informative, but one student's was so beautifully written that I asked whether I could share it. It really isn't a short story, but it is a lovely reflection for Christmas.
Like a Blooming Rose
It was the time prophesied by the ages. A place had been chosen by a careful father. All creation lay silent, for it knew what had come. The stars even sang of its glory. A tearful mother cradled her newborn baby, and a proud step-father watched in awe. All of time had been preparation for this night. This night would change the world forever. Never would a more controversial child be born than this. This child would live, die, and rise for a change. This child would preach to hundreds of thousands. This child would heal the lame, sick, and blind. This child would fill the lungs of a dead man with life. This child would prove the prophets of old and discredit the Pharisees of new. This child would turn water into wine and sweat blood. This child would be sentenced to die, although no fault could be found with him. This child would rise from the dead, and this child would ascend into heaven. This child changed the course of history, but this child came without a sound. All of history had happened simply to pave the road this child would walk on. He was a child that had been anticipated for hundreds of years, since the dawn of time. Like a rose gently breaks the earth, stretches towards the sky, opens itself fully, and dies; so did this child.