Monday, December 14, 2009

WHAT A WEEKEND! Okay, I exaggerate. I humbly admit my unqualifiable enthusiasm. It was ho-hum, a December weekend like most other December weekends. One filled with the high hopes of year-end accomplishments, and yet only a paltry few were fulfilled. I made a list. There were eleven tasks. As of right now, only four are crossed off, and two of those were crossed off on the hasty side, as minor touch-ups remain to be done. Ackk.

Today I was not up with the concrete guys, I was up with the children. But this was fine, since I needed to be up pouring concrete anyway. Went and rented another VERY LARGE concrete trailer again, since I am such a master of the thing now, and found at the end of the day that I had about four full wheelbarrows of the stuff left over. Concrete! Who wants concrete? What was I going to do with it? So I went home to see where I could pour it. Mrs. Ditchman emerged and pointed out a right, good empty spot near the driveway that always bugged her. "Pour it there," she commanded. I did, but I had to build the forms first. In the end, she was very right about it all, and it was serendipitous -we even put the kids' handprints in it, like the good sentimental Americans we are. The concrete wasn't wasted, and everything turned out okay.

I'm not mentioning all the other myriad of things that went awry this Monday.

Went to church yesterday, which was nice, and I didn't blow it on the communion, as I am want to do. I even stopped myself from exclaiming in a whisper, as I handed the Holy Host to my wife, "Eat drink and be merry! For we are wholly forgiven though we don't deserve it!" One could argue that this is biblically correct, but I doubt anyone could make the case that it was proper for the moment, so I just went with "Christ's body broken for you," like everyone else does. Meh, it works.

The pastor pointed out the shepherds. The poor shepherds. He said that shepherds were not allowed to bear witness in the courts of their time -they were so distrusted. They were like communal hippies, I guess, living out in the fields with their animals. Anyway, the angels appeared to them first:

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "WOW."

Okay, they didn't say "wow" exactly, as it reads in the Bible, but this is the way our pastor ended the reading and it got a good laugh.

It got a good laugh because of course they said "WOW!" But the Bible doesn't have time for flowery theatrics in this section -there's just too much information to get across. The Heavenly Host has just appeared, however unlikely, to the most untrustworthy folks in the land, and has informed them of this impending momentous occasion. It's like every UFO sighting ever recounted, and at the end of which, if it happened to you, you would say: "WOW."

Then the shepherds run out and tell everyone that they basically just saw a flying saucer, "and all who heard it were amazed." Amazed at the passion of idiots? Perhaps. But there was proof: that little baby lying in that manger in suburban Bethlehem.

The Bible tells us to be like Jesus, or at least like that innocent child Jesus. But we are more often not like Jesus, and, if we are lucky, we are only vaguely like those hippie, untrustworthy shepherds. No, the Bible tells us we are like the sheep, the goats. (Isaiah 53:6, Matthew 25:33) It's sad. It's sad because, well, the Heavenly Host showed up for the shepherds. What were the sheep and goats doing at that moment?

And this is why we need Jesus. Luckily, the Lord is our shepherd.
(Psalm 23)

Merry Christmas.