What fun! This morning, John and I got to “visit” the local tractor (and other big equipment) dealer. We drove around the building (I drooled a little bit when I saw a “cute” little RTV) and then pulled into a graveled area. Ahead of us (carefully parked only on the gravel with no wheels on the muddy fringe of the parking lot) was a brand new, black Silverado. The driver was outside his vehicle and motioned to us, asking if he needed to move forward and over so that our rig would be out of the mud. John waved back, noting that we were fine.
As John went inside the dealership to do some paperwork, I watched our friend work. He was fastening brand new, brass chains around the axels of a brand new tractor. I knew that the tractor was new because the bright orange paint had no dings and the tires had fresh treads with no dirt in the crevices. The trailer was also new. The Florida tag on the back had white/white plastic fasteners and the wooden floor was spotless. It was a beautiful, brand new rig.
The driver moved around to the back of his vehicle and I cracked open my door and shouted, “Merry Christmas.” He smiled and came to the side of our truck. I asked him if that was his Christmas present and he nodded and blushed a little. He pointed to the submarine tag on the front of our truck and asked about John’s military service. “30 years as a submariner,” I said, “You?” He shared that he had also served in the Navy with 8 years as a Navy pilot. And, then he had transferred to the Air Force Special Forces, serving an additional 14 years. I thanked him for his service and he commented about how impressed he was with “submariners” (using the British and Australian pronunciation). I laughed saying, “Nope, John is an American submariner” (using the “correct” tones). He laughed and returned to his work.
When John came back to the truck, I told him of our conversation. When both men had a moment, they started talking. I couldn’t hear their words, but I figure that they were talking service and tractors – both great topics. Men talk about things that women never even consider. And, when we try to join in in it can get a little weird. As I watched the two men in front of me talk, I thought of the men who were near the Christ child on that first Christmas.
Joseph probably recognized the occupation of the shepherds as soon as they arrived. Men are great with babies, but not always in front of each other. And so, I have no doubt that there was little discussion of how much baby Jesus weighed or how many hours Mary had been in labor. I bet that the men stood to the side of the child and mother and chatted. Perhaps Joseph said something like, “How far out of town are you working?” And, the shepherds motioned to a distant hill and described flock problems. Perhaps one asked, “You a shepherd too?” to which Joseph might have replied, “Nope, carpenter back home in Nazareth.”
The words that Joseph would have used with the magi might have been more stilted for a moment. But, then discussion of common experiences like being away from family and traveling long distances would have begun.
Regardless of the topics that Joseph had with the others, I wonder if one of them commented, “You ready for this?” or “What now, Friend?” Or, maybe they all realized that for each one of them the game had changed. They would never live the lives that their fathers and grandfathers had lived. They would never be the same. They would never again be exactly sure of what was going to happen next. The arrival of the Messiah was (to use a word tossed around lightly) epic.
It is true for us. Christmas changed everything.
“The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!“” (John 1:29)
Jill (just one of God’s kids)