A Little Stinker at Christmas

My father was a quiet man of faith.  His father was a preacher.  Two of his brothers became preachers.  He even felt at one time the calling into ministry.  He and I didn’t talk theology or even ruminate over scripture very often; but, I knew he loved the Lord.  He was a Superintendent of his Sunday School department.  He would lead singing at Wednesday Night Prayer meeting and would teach an occasional Sunday School lesson or give a devotion. 

He loved to sing.  I have many very fond memories of sitting at the piano with him singing through the hymn book with him.  He wasn’t musically trained but it came naturally to him.  I would sing melody and he would sing a rich baritone harmony. 

He worked hard and long hours.  He was good at what he did.  He was an aluminum extrusionist.  That didn’t make much sense to me as a child either until one day he explained what that mean using my playdoh press.  His job was to make the little piece would make the shape that aluminum would be pressed through.  He made these dies for things like aluminum ladders, the aluminum framing around windows and aluminum pieces for machinery and such.  He even created pieces for the Space Shuttle and the Alaska Pipeline. 

When he wasn’t working he would take us camping.  He would build huge bonfires and cook breakfast every morning when we were out camping.  We would go hiking, fishing, and fellowship with the other campers in the campground. 

He was also a great wood worker.  He built furniture, cutting boards and ink pens.  Every year we would get some handmade gift of love from him.  He even made his own outdoor nativity scene.  He found a wood working pattern on line and carefully crafted the figures from plywood:  Mary Joseph the baby Jesus, camels, kings, sheep and shepherds.  He built a stable from pieces of a privacy fence and even rigged up a star that would light up on top. 

Every year it was a big production to get out the nativity scene.  As he got older it would take him several days to haul it out of the garage, touch up the paint, and set it up.  Several years ago in the midst of the scene a new character appeared.  I don’t even know now where it came from but there was no missing this unique animal that my father added to the nativity story. 

One day as we drove up to visit there it was sitting right next this holy idyllic scene of our savior’s birth, a large black and white stuffed skunk.  That’s right a skunk. It was as big as the sheep.  I was rather perplexed, “Daddy, since when did the Christmas Story include a skunk?”

My father grinned with a twinkle in his eye, “It’s a reminder to me that Jesus came for even a little stinker like me.”  Thoughts of him saying that brings a smile to heart.  I see it now, in retrospect. My father had always been aware and grateful for God’s grace.  A skunk in the manager scene was his way of preaching it to us and our little corner of the world.  We are all a little dirty and smelly from the lies and sins in our lives; but, the gift and love of Jesus Christ is the sweet smell of God’s forgiveness and grace.