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World Religion
Nathan's Numbers

Nathan's Numbers
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 3 to 5
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   4.06

     challenging words:    beaker, chemist, countertop, cringe, freshman, froth, saith, sermon, stained-glass, ticked, bubbly, clumsy, vinegar, beginning, burner, onto

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Nathan's Numbers
By Colleen Messina

1     For once, Nathan listened to the Bible verse. His minister was quoting from the book of Matthew:

"Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, until seven times, but until seventy times seven." (Matthew 18:21-22)
2     The little church was hot already. Nathan looked up at the bright stained-glass window showing Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane. Patches of color danced across the floor as the sunlight streamed through the panes. The yellow patch came from the halo around Jesus' head, and the blue and purple patches came from the sky behind him. A huge, glowing patch of red came from the robe of Christ. Nathan thought about the verse, watched the moving colors on the white tile floor, and did the math. Seventy times seven! Jesus said that. Nathan had to forgive Bill 490 times! Impossible!
3     Nathan's family went to their Methodist church every Sunday. Most of the time, Nathan didn't pay attention to the sermon. Instead, he just watched the rainbow lights move across the church floor. He knew where the lights would be by the end of the service. Today the minister talked about numbers, so Nathan listened. The sermon made Nathan think about Bill.
4     Bill was Nathan's partner in his freshman chemistry class. Bill spilled things. He dropped frogs. He created explosions. He made the teacher cringe each time the class used a Bunsen burner. Bill's safety glasses slipped off at the oddest times. Sometimes, his mistakes meant that they got a bad grade. Sometimes, Bill's mistakes meant that they had to do an experiment over. Bill was just not a chemist!
5     After the service, Nathan walked home from church and thought some more about chemistry class. He enjoyed the June air. School was almost over! Later, it would be too hot to be outside. It must have been hot when Jesus walked barefoot on the burning sands of Judea by the Sea of Galilee. Jesus taught about forgiveness. Forgiveness seemed harder in twenty-first century chemistry class! Nathan didn't want to be hard on Bill. He did want to pass his class. Bill didn't mean to be clumsy.
6     When his family got home, Nathan sat down to watch television. He flicked through the channels. He was glad to have nothing to do.
7     "Nathan, you didn't take out the trash!" called his dad. "The neighbor's dog got into it. It is all over the patio. Again!"
8     Nathan felt bad. He had forgotten about doing that chore.
9     "I'm sorry, Dad, I'll do it now," said Nathan.

Paragraphs 10 to 22:
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