Hope Arrives in December

I am grateful to invite the Rev. Karin Wright to share with us as a guest blogger on Smuggling Grace today. Her story below is quite powerful and sweet.

A Story in Honor of Matthew 1:18-25

19 Joseph her husband was a righteous man. Because he didn’t want to humiliate her, he decided to call off their engagement quietly. 20 As he was thinking about this, an angel from the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, don’t be afraid to take Mary as your wife, because the child she carries was conceived by the Holy Spirit.21 She will give birth to a son, and you will call him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” … When Joseph woke up, he did just as an angel from God commanded and took Mary as his wife. (Matt 1:19-21, 24)

We have about 70 head of sheep. We normally lamb (have babies born) in April which often makes Easter very hectic. My husband is extremely practical and forcibly unsentimental about the adorably cute lambs. He believes they should have as little intervention as possible from us. They are employees not pets. They earn their keep by grazing and lambing in the fields.

Last week, we had a December lamb. In the middle of a snowstorm (well, during a lull between two squalls – same difference). It was bitterly cold and we were expecting worse weather later on. He went out later in the day than he wanted to check on the sheep with his mother, my informant. He noticed one of the ewes looked like it had a lamb but had not passed the afterbirth yet. So a recent birth! The first time mother is wandering around with the flock towards the barn, but the shepherd sees no baby. They start methodically searching the pasture, my mother in law taking the tree line and my husband taking the opposite edge. Suddenly, she notices her son jump the fence and run through the pasture towards a lump taking off his coat and his sweatshirt as he goes. Quickly he wraps the new lamb up in the shirt that was closest to his body and therefore warmest.

They took the lamb into the barn and my husband – a fairly likable, easy-going man – began barking orders to his mother for a bucket of very hot water to be brought to him. The first bucket wasn’t warm enough. She balked, not wanting to scald the lamb, but my husband was resolute demanding it be very hot, saying the mother ewe’s body would have been 102 degrees. He kept checking the lamb’s throat to feel for any warmth or signs of life. This lamb was very close to death. With the right temperature in the bucket, the lamb was submerged and rubbed over and over. The shepherd went to fetch the mother while my mother-in-law kept rubbing the lamb for what felt like ages but was really just a few minutes. Soon, the lamb started to rouse and move around. The mother was brought into the stall and began to call for its baby. The lamb responded! It tottled over to its mother and began to nurse!

I would like to be doe-eyed and tell you how heroic, decisive, and wonderful my husband is and how I fell a little more in love with him because of the person he is – which would be true – but I didn’t hear this story from him. He only said to me, “We had a lamb! We named her December.” My humble, unsentimental husband named the lamb. Sometimes, we don’t expect new life. Still, we have to find a way to respond to the arrival of newness in faith. New life can seem so fragile and be quite time sensitive, even requiring extensive work. Yet, life is resilient and we can sometimes find hope in the smallest of successes – like a lamb surviving its first 6 hours of life.

Like the story of scripture above, my husband’s name is Joseph. I found that very fitting this week.

december

walk

Rev. Karin A. Wright is an Interim Pastor in Northeast Ohio where she lives with her husband, Joe, and their four sons. As a general reminder to pastors, we are sheepdogs for the Shepherd. Go where you are sent.

Photos by Joe Wright — The first is of December and her Mom. The second is of Lynn Wright, Joe’s father and Karin’s father-in-law.

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