Once, when there was a famine, a rich baker sent for twenty of the poorest children in the town and said to them, “In this basket there is a loaf for each of you. Take it, and come back to me every day till God sends us better times.”
The hungry children gathered eagerly about the basket, and quarreled for the bread, because each wished to have the largest loaf. At last they went away without even thanking the good man.
But Gretchen, a poorly dressed little girl, did not quarrel or struggle with the rest, but remained standing modestly a pace away. When the ill-behaved children had left, she took the smallest loaf, which alone was left in the basket, kissed the man’s hand, and went home.
The next day the children were as ill-behaved as before, and poor, timid Gretchen received a loaf scarcely half the size of the one she got the first day. When she came home, and her mother cut the loaf open, many new, shining pieces of silver fell out of it.
The mother was very much alarmed, and said, “Take the money back to the good man at once, for it must have got in the dough by accident. Go quickly, Gretchen, go quickly!”
But when the little girl gave the rich man her mother’s message, he said, “No, no, my child, it was no mistake. I had the silver pieces put into the smallest loaf to reward you. Always be contented, peaceable; and grateful as you arc now. Go home, now, and tell your mother that the money is your own.
Shortly after the culmination of the Second World War, a devastated city in England began its heartbreaking and weary work of restoration. In the old city square had stood a large statue of Jesus Christ with His hands outspread in an attitude of invitation. On the pedestal were carved the words, “Come unto me.
In the process of the restoration of the statue, with the aid of master artists and sculptors, the figure eventually was reassembled, except for the hands of which no fragments could be discovered anywhere in the surrounding rubble. Someone made the suggestion that the artists, since the former hands could not be found, would have to fashion new hands.
Later came a public protest, couched in the words, “No, leave Him without hands!” So today, in the public square of that English city, the restored statue of Christ stands without hands, and on its base are carved the words, “Christ has no hands but ours!”
At this Christmas time, let’s think of something we can do!