“In that region there were shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And lo, an angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Fear not: for behold I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.” – Luke 2:8-10
Wayne hangs out in front of Starbucks and is the worst panhandler ever. He is so gloomy. He slouches, glares at you as you pass by, and says, “Rahrahrahrah.”I confess I’ve walked across the street just to avoid him.
One day I was stuck feeling just as gloomy as Wayne. I walked by as he said, “Rahrahrahrah” and I just kept walking. I got halfway down the street when I stopped and said to myself, “This is ridiculous. Now we have two gloomy men on the street and what good is that doing anyone?”
So I turned around, walked back to Wayne, and held out my hand.
“Hi. I’m Peter”
“Here’s a dollar, Wayne.”
He looked up, his eyes sparkled, and for the first time I saw him smile, “Thanks.”
“You’re welcome,” I said
A couple of days later, I saw Wayne again. But this time, before he could even say, “Rahrahrahrah,” I called out, “Hi Wayne!”
Wayne came over and grabbed me, “Hey! Great to see you again, man!” and lifted me up off the ground.
I said, “Wayne, please put me down.”
I don’t know what Wayne thinks about a Jesus who loves him and a God who calls him by name, but I do know that he now knows that there’s a man with a red jacket and gym bag who does.
As for me, when Wayne grabbed me and lifted me up, I knew something about those shepherds glorifying and praising God.
“And you, beneath life’s crushing load, whose forms are bending lo,
Who toil along the climbing way, with painful steps and slow,
Look now, for glad and golden hours come swiftly on the wing;
O rest beside the weary road, and hear the angel’s sing.” Amen.
(“It Came Upon the Midnight Clear,” Edmund Sears)
Peter Ilgenfritz is a Minister and Member of the Leadership Staff at University Congregational United Church of Christ, Seattle, Washington.