<sigh> Christmas on the Dog Watch. For a while, when I’d think about it, I’d get a little depressed. Having to drive around by myself in the dark watching others getting together for parties and presents. I’d feel a little cheated, I guess, at not being able to go be with family out-of-town like we’d do when I was a computer programmer – my first career. I’m sure many of you night-shift guys and gals can relate. I knew going in to full-time law enforcement that this would be the case, but it’s not until the time is actually at hand that the feelings get ya.
One of the “hard parts” of my shift in my patrol area is sometimes having to sit 15 – 20 miles outside of town in the dark and being surrounded by myriads of stars overhead. At times like that is when I feel for you city-bound officers. Last night there was one star that was so bright and so consistent that it seemed that it had to be a man-made light, but it was way too high in the sky for that to be the case.
It was then that my thoughts turned back to that First Christmas. That First Christmas wasn’t about family gatherings, turkey dinners and gift exchanges. They hadn’t even conceived of a tv let alone an Xbox. But the incident we now call “the First Christmas” happened on the Dog Watch. Some “rookie patrolman” wrote up this report:
“I don’t remember the exact time, but it was well after dark. I was working patrol with other members of the night shift. We were 5 – 8 miles west of town doing close patrol on a bunch of knot-headed kids and watching for predators, when suddenly this unidentified subject appeared in the sky above our heads. I’ll tell you, it was unnerving that he came up behind us without any of us noticing him. We were too astonished to throw down on the subject and before we could call the Sergeant, the subject informed us that a Baby had been born in Bethlehem. We didn’t know what to think. We’d never seen the like. Then, just as suddenly as he had appeared, the subject was surrounded by a bunch of gang bangers. We’ve never seen gang colors like this…so white they seemed to actually glow! We figured we’d need to call SWAT, but all they did was praise God. Then they vanished! We called the Sergeant and he called the Watch Commander. The upshot of it all was that we left a couple of officers to continue the patrol, and the rest made a Code 2 response to Bethlehem to assess the situation. What we found was certainly no crime scene. We found a couple with a newborn Baby in a barn surrounded by farm animals and clean hay. The odd thing about it was there was such a sense of … holiness, for lack of a better word. We were awestruck and all we could do, all we wanted to do, was to worship God; for although we didn’t understand it all, clearly this was His doing. After a time we returned to our close-patrol assignment and briefed those who had remained at their posts, but we couldn’t get the events out of our mind for long. The rest of the shift was uneventful. End of Report.” (Luke 2:8-20)
The “moral of the story?” Well…first, sometimes good things happen on Dog Watch. <grin> Secondly, I remind myself that although family gatherings and all the things associated with them are a big part of Christmas, the real meaning centers around the events in a small town in a small country a long time ago. Even though we’re a long way away geographically and chronologically, that First Christmas is as important as it ever was. God gave His Best as a gift to mankind.
As I sit with my nearly-silent radar in the dark Christmas night and gaze out at the myriad of stars, I don’t really expect I’ll see angels. I might see a few falling stars. I may reflect on Candle-light church services and Christmas gatherings long since passed. But, I’ll remember the events that happened on that long ago “Dog Watch” and maybe sing a few Christmas Carols to the coyotes. And wish Jesus a Happy Birthday.
Wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas, and we’ll visit again in 2013.Chaplain Bill firstname.lastname@example.org