A certain couple, wishing to keep a record of family events, spent more than a thousand dollars on a video camera and accessories. As soon as the teenage grandchildren and their friends saw the equipment, they wanted to use it.

Because the camera represented a sacrifice and was precious to the grandparents, they laid down certain rules.

  • If a child could say that his/her family had the same model of camera at home, permission was quickly granted.
  • If someone had operated similar equipment from the same company, only a little instruction was needed.
  • If he/she was familiar with video cameras in general, though not this company's product, a little more instruction was called for.
  • If the youngster had only known about video as an observer, much instruction was needed.
  • If a younger child wanted to be part of the activity, he/she would be permitted to assist with lights or carrying equipment while learning about video and developing judgment.

There were some who protested that the rules were too strict, that some friends might never visit again if they were denied access to the video camera. The grandparents pointed out that without proper preparation, a child might handle the equipment carelessly. If something were broken, the child’s remorse would be terrible. Putting a child in that position would not be treating a child with love, the grandparents maintained. Besides, they said, all the children could take part in singing or speaking for the camera and watching the others. No one was turned away from the gathering.

Neighbors who had made a similar investment of their savings in a riding lawnmower understood the grandparents’ reasoning. They said that, when something is precious and represents a sacrifice, it must be handled only by those who know how to treat it.

Others remembered how as children they had been told to wash their hands before handling something valuable. Some remembered the awful guilt when they had broken something their grandparents had treasured. They even likened the situation to Holy Communion, which surely represents a sacrifice and is precious to those who have learned its meaning.