Scenes of Christmas – Special Edition (Good Tidings, Great Joy, Good Works)

MB900355763After an invigorating church service this morning, where the Advent (expectancy of Christ’s birth) was declared ‘closed’ and Christmas (the birth of Jesus) was ‘opened’ for joyous celebration, I dashed home and headed to work (a.k.a. lab) to finish up some last minute experiments.

Enroute, I eyed my fuel guage, which was registering nearly empty. (For those family members who read my blog and who lovingly rebuke this terrible habit: I know, I know. I am ridiculous.) I popped by the gas station to remedy the problem.

The fellow at the pump in front of mine was a nattily dressed black man. (I love that word-nattily. It means extremely trim and neat, but sounds (at least to me) like it would mean the opposite.) Judging from his thinning salt-and-pepper hair, he was in his late fifties or early sixties.

I’m a starer, so I marvelled at his perfectly-pressed dark gray trousers, his stiffly-starched white shirt, and his holly-green sweater vest that hollered ‘Season’s Greetings!’  In the passenger seat of his pristine Lincoln, which was the color of creamy eggnog, I could just see the top of a woman’s head, hair shiny black and beautifully styled.

A battered blue 1990’s era Toyota Corolla sputtered into the station, the driver’s side window down despite the 30-degree temperature outside. The driver, a middle-aged fellow who appeared to be of Mexican descent, stopped beside the Lincoln and said something to the nattily dressed gentleman. The gentleman stepped closer, a line creasing his forehead as he listened. Then he reached into his pocket, withdrew a wad of crisp bills and deposited one, then two bills into the extended hand of the Corolla driver.

I watched as the Toyota pulled around to another pump and the driver filled the tank of his tired-looking vehicle. He occassionally cast an appreciative glance at his benefactor, who was now replacing the pump nozzle and affixing the gas cap on his elegant ride.

As I wondered what I would have said and done had the Mexican fellow asked me for gas money, my attention was suddenly drawn to a bright yellow 1970s model Ford pickup creeping slowly across the lot. Beneath the truck, I could see the driver’s plodding feet as they struck the ground. Moving my gaze further up, I saw his right hand steering the wheel, his left hand keeping the driver’s side door open.

Instantly, the man in the Lincoln was by his side asking, “Where are you putting it?”

I watched as the two men pushed the broken-down, yellow Ford into an empty parking space. They conversed for a moment, then the gentleman made his way back to his Lincoln.

“I have never seen one person do so many good deeds in the span of five miniues!” I called to him. (Granted, it was ‘only’ two, but I had the distinct feeling that if more opporutnities has presented themselves, he would have racked up even more.)

A magnificent smile spread across the man’s face and he replied, “I do what I can!”

We bid one another ‘Merry Christmas!’ and drove off in separate directions.

I really can’t say why this kind gentleman did what he did, but his spectacular display brought this thought to mind: Good works won’t get us to heaven[1], but our good works sure do help our fellow man in the meantime.  … And leave grand impressions on bystanders.

[1] How can one be assured of life (heaven) after this life?  By repentance and belief in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins.

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works. — (Titus 2:11-14 ESV)