A Serendipitous Christmas Celebration!

Luke 2:10, 11, 14

(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)

Yes, although it is a bit hard to make out, that photo is of a sewage pumper truck all decked out with Christmas lights, and with ‘Seasons Greetings’ on the side! I was surprised I even found such a photo, but the internet is an amazing thing!

This is going to be a fun Gem, but with a Scriptural point. Here is Luke 2:10, 11, and 14, part of the well-known Christmas story:

     Then the angel said to [the shepherds]... “Do not be 
     afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great 
     joy which will be to all people.  For there is born 
     to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is 
     Christ the Lord....Glory to God in the highest, and 
     on earth peace, good will toward men,” 

What has this got to do with a decorated sewage truck?

It all began about 25 years ago. My wife and I owned a cottage in Patterson Grove, an old Methodist camp meeting in northeastern Pennsylvania. Through a friend, Edie, I learned that Walter, a man I had met a few years before, was in charge of cleaning out an old barn that had been sold a couple of weeks before. Since I love antiques, I was interested in what might be found in that barn. Walter invited me to have a look.

  • In the back of the upper story, the hay mow of the barn, I found two old Star automobile engines, one dated 1924, and the other 1925.
  • In the lower level of the barn was a wagon, the wooden body of which was falling apart. But the two wheels on it were Packard wheels from the 1920’s.

Both the Star engines and the Packard wheels I knew had value to antique automobile collectors. So, with Walter’s permission, I loaded them up in my trailer and brought them home. Walter and I agreed to split whatever I could sell them for. The two engines sold for $600, and the Packard wheels for $50! So I had $650 to split with Walter.

But somehow I lost track of Walter, and I even forgot his name! Every once in awhile over the years, I would think of this debt I owed, and wonder how I could ever get to pay it.

Last summer, during the annual 15 day camp meeting at Patterson Grove, Edie mentioned Walter’s name. “That’s it! He’s the one!” And I told Edie about what happened 25 years before. She told me Walter was now in a local nursing home, up in years and rather forgetful. But, talk about forgetful, I forgot Walter’s name again! …until I called Edie two weeks ago.

Supplied anew with Walter’s name, I called the nursing home where he resided and talked with Katie, the nursing coordinator. After relating the story, I asked if it might be possible to send the $350 to be applied to Walter’s account. But she told me that might mess up his other lines of funding. So I asked, “What if you used that money to bless the staff and/or residents in some way in honor of Walter?” She liked the idea, and connected me to Brenda, who was in charge of such things.

I found out I knew Brenda! As a matter of fact, having moved from Pennsylvania to Georgia 16 months ago, we sold our cottage at Patterson Grove, but rented one for next year’s fifteen day camp meeting. Brenda asked which cottage we had rented. “The old Van Fossen cottage,” I replied. “They were my grandparents! I grew up in that cottage!” she practically shouted. And we shared some of our memories of the grove.

Then we got down to business. I told her about Walter and my debt to him. “What do you think is the best way to handle this? ” Brenda became excited: “We are planning a Christmas party for the residents on December 5th.” A local septic/sewage company wanted to bless the residents. So they suggested bringing all three of their sewage pumper trucks for a parade, each decorated with Christmas lights, and one hosting Santa Clause! And we can use that $350 to buy pizza and milk shakes for the residents!” Brenda excitedly told me. “It is all coming together! This is wonderful!” I teased, “Yeah, just don’t serve chocolate milkshakes!We both laughed! I told her I wanted it all done in Walter’s name, but leave my name out of it. She could tell Walter where the $350 came from, but I said, “I doubt he will even remember me.

So it was settled. I wrote the check a few days ago and sent it off.

But only God could put together something like this!

  • A way to discharge my 25 year old debt of $350 I owed to Walter!
  • A Christmas parade for the residents of three sewage trucks strung with lights, and one carrying Santa!
  • A special pizza and milkshake party for all the residents!
  • A joyous serendipitous Christmas celebration to lighten the hearts of about a hundred nursing home residents…and mine too!

Thank You, Lord!