Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Christmas Train

Tuesday, February 9, 2016


Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone—especially to those in the family of faith.   Galatians 6:10(NLT)

Before we leave the warmth of Christmas joy for the sobering Lenten season, I would like to pass along one more uplifting moment of celebration I recently received from John Mehrling, a friend, and part of our extended family.  John writes of something that happened years ago on our (then) home of Long Island:  

The promised warm weather for Christmas Day reminded me of a Christmas shortly after Anne and I were married.  We were living in Queens and sang in the choir of a local Lutheran Church.  We would slip out just before the end of the Midnight Christmas Eve Service to catch the Jamaica Ave [elevated train] out to the LIRR Jamaica Station for the last train out to Stony Brook.

Well that night, because of the very warm weather, we were shrouded in dense fog.  [We] almost missed the el train because we didn't see it entering the station. 

At Jamaica we got on a train made up of very old, un-reconditioned cars - dim lights, low backed seats, heat on (the book said it was winter and the heat should be on).  The car was mostly filled with men who had combined shopping for last minute gifts for their children with overly enthusiastic liquid celebrating.  Many of them were loudly bragging of all they were going to do before the kids got up to see what Santa was leaving them.

Then our train hit a car in Mineola, delaying us for a while before we resumed our trip.

Anne and I were sort of aware of a young soldier sitting behind us.  After the train resumed its eastward journey, he asked the gentleman sitting next to him if he thought there would still be a taxi at the Northport Station.  Slowly the young man told his story - he was returning from Viet Nam.  He had a gift for his mother in his second duffel bag - she never had a good set of dishes and he bought her a set while on R&R in Hong Kong. 

The man next to him asked why his folks wouldn't be meeting him and he told him that they didn't know he was coming home - he had been released and stuffed onto an outbound plane at the last minute; similar timing had occurred at each connecting point along the way.  He was very concerned that he get the gift for his mother home intact.  (I'm thinking that his mother wouldn't so much care for the gift as for his safe, unexpected return.)  Then the man sitting next to him told him, "Get off with me at Huntington, I'll drive you home."  

Amid all the self-important sleaze in the dimly lit car, the light of God's love shone brightly on that early Christmas Day morning.

Sometimes the unselfishness of a stranger is all it takes to make your season, or year.  The more I thought about John’s story and how that young man received kindness in his journey, the more my mind began to draw opposite pictures of another Son who was treated badly in his journey to planet earth.

This story reminds us that Christmas is entirely in the hands of those for whom the Son of God left his heavenly home and brought his life-giving gift.

For You Today

There’s every possibility that today you might meet someone in need of that little extra kindness God has prepared inside you.

You chew on that as you hit the Rocky Road today…and have a blessed day!

[1] Title image: By Mikhail (Vokabre) Shcherbakov from Moscow, Russia (Old passenger train), via Wikimedia Commons

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