Merry Christmas from Dr. Gaertner

Christmas blessings to each of you!

One of the third grade teachers and myself received an overwhelming early Christmas gift this last week before Christmas break from one of your children! It will surely be the subject of many a story as we go forward.

We were discussing the rich vocabulary origins and spiritual meanings of our Latin words in third grade. For example, the word “nativity” refers to the whole scene – the big picture (nativity). From the shepherds (pastores) to the magi (wise men) the star (stella) and the Angel (angelus), to the mater( mother) and father (pater) and baby Jesus (infans Iesus), the English words we use today described the scene in Bethlehem long ago. We retold the Christmas story with our Latin words and the whole class burst into song when we spoke “Gloria in excelsis Deo!” Thank you, Mrs. Honeck, for choosing that hymn each year as we celebrate.

We discussed how Mary placed the baby in a manger – which was actually a feed trough for the stable animals. We compared Jesus’ baby bed to the baby beds we know now and wow! What a difference! We discussed the double meanings of words and how words create emotions and pictures in our minds. How rich these words can be – especially when we know their Latin meanings!

The gift came when we learned the word for manger was “praesepe.” In Latin this word is pronounced “pry se pay.” We discussed that Jesus did indeed come to earth as a helpless baby to very young parents. And he was placed into a food trough for his first bed. He was our spiritual food! Now that’s a very deep understanding for us in third grade. But the best was yet to come when confidently a third grader said ” yes, that was his “price to pay” for us!” She went on to say that’s “how it had to happen for him to grow up, die on a cross for our sins and suffer for us so we can live forever in heaven too!” Having picked up on the Latin pronunciation of the word for manger and making that deep spiritual connection, the teacher and I were overwhelmed at that moment and will forever be blessed because of what happened there. While the connection of pronunciation from Latin to the English phrase she made had no authentic lingual connection, the deep spiritual connection does exist and it was made very real to us in that response.

So as I pass on my hope and prayer for each of you this Christmas season I will share with you the beautiful words from Matthew 1:21: “She will give birth to a son and you are to give him the name Jesus because he will save His people from their sins.” Yes that spiritual connection is very real. He has come to save us. And free us. And with the help of the Holy Spirit, help us to live abundantly. A third grader already gets that! And God saw fit to share it as gift to me!

Gods blessings to all this new year!