(Sing the following line to the tune of “The Twelve Days of Christmas”)
On the third day of Christmas, my puppy led me to: three trash cans, two chicken bones, and a gift bag with the word, “Joy!”
Happy New Year.
I apologize if that song is now stuck in your head.
‘Twas the third day of Christmas, and all through the house, Isaac the dog was squeaking his toy mouse. The leashes were hung by the back door with care, in hopes that a walk would soon get us out of there.
Okay. As much as I love attempting to write in rhyme and meter, I won’t finish this blog until next New Year’s Eve if I keep it up :).
After days of rain and thunderstorms, a clear sky finally allowed Isaac and me to go on a real walk. The street was full of scents for sniffing and mud puddles for playing: a dog’s perfect Christmas gift. We were only a few minutes into the walk when he turned sharply toward a house with three garbage cans in the front yard. As Isaac ‘investigated’ the base of each one, I observed the overflowing bins. Empty boxes. Food scraps. Wrapping paper. The typical curbside after Christmas Day.
Chomp. Chomp. Smack.
Apparently leftover chicken had spilled onto the ground, and Isaac had happily helped ‘clean up.’ I wrestled one bone from his mouth, and he promptly found a second. As I snatched the second from him, he pouted and whined. I tossed both bones into one of the cans and noticed a crumpled gift bag in one corner. It was bright blue with the drawing of a snow man, smiling and waving his stick-arm under soft stars and snowflakes. Above his round head was a single word: JOY.
There was something so poetically heartbreaking yet oddly uplifting about that snowman. Crumpled into the smelly corner of a garbage can, he looked like he was melting. Still, the word JOY glimmered. His smile remained.
Isaac pulled me back to the reality of his walk, but the thought of the crushed snowman traveled with us. This year’s Christmas carried a heavy load for many people. Tornadoes. Flooding. Blizzards. Wildfires. Car Accidents. Cancelled Flights. In the state of Mississippi alone, the number of people who died in the devastating weather has now reached 11.
Many of us can probably sing the first verse of “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear,” from memory, but I think the snowman was better acquainted with this third verse. When we don’t feel like singing of joy, maybe we need to pause by the side of the road and listen for the angels instead. Their voices tell us not to fear. They testify that God is with us. They instruct us on where to go when we rise from our weariness.
No matter how many chicken bones and broken boxes smothered that gift bag, no amount of trash could remove JOY from its sky.
No matter how warm the Christmas weather may have been, the snowman evangelist will not melt in eternal Light.
As we walk through the Christmas season and into a new year, let us continue listening to the angels. Let us dare to sing with them. Let us remember that no darkness can dispel the light of joy that comes from Christ our Lord.
all good things to each of you,
Pastor Darian (and Paw-stor Isaac)