Pastoral Post 12.22.2019 | Rev. Keith Turman "I Forgot to Take Out the Trash"

"I Forgot to Take Out the Trash"

By Keith Turman

Trash day in my corner of the world is on Thursday. The truck pauses at my driveway in the early afternoon, and quickly carries my garbage away. It’s a pretty sweet deal. I forgot about trash day last week. I’ve been told by some that this is a regular phenomenon. I passionately disagree, but the fog clears as I’m mounting my defense, and I realize I’m in familiar territory. I’ve been here before. So once again, the small closet attached to the shed is full. There’s so much trash in there I can’t get my hands on the rake, which lives with the snow shovel and lawn chairs just behind the trash cans. That explains why the front yard remains littered with the season’s last deposit of leaves.

I met a plumber today. It’s not something one wants to happen, unless Steve the plumber is the guy sitting next to you at the Braves’ game dripping mustard on his jersey. I met Steve because it seems the parsonage pipes are full of trash too. Chan was in the basement doing laundry. Her screams coincided with my turning on the garbage disposal. For the sake of the children, I will not describe what flew out of the pipes that service the kitchen sink, dishwasher, and washing machine. It brought all of our efforts at cleanliness to a grinding halt. But Steve, a happy plumber who clearly loves his job, fearlessly went after that clogged pipe with a passion unmatched in the plumbing world. Within minutes the parsonage pipes were free.


My friend Dan’s brother, David, tells a story appropriate for this season. David loves ribs, so when he heard about a restaurant that had amazing ribs, he and a bunch of his friends drove fifty miles to get them. The restaurant was packed, and the food was amazing. It was “all-you-can-eat rib night,” and rib bones were piling up as fast as the line to get in. Eating ribs is messy business. Barbecue sauce gets on your face, fingers, and clothes. Dirty napkins pile up next to half-eaten bowls of baked beans and coleslaw. After eating all they possibly could, they paid the tab and waddled out to the car.

David reached into his pocket for the car keys and came up with nothing but lint. Panicking, he looked through the window at the ignition. He hoped that he had locked his keys in the car, because in the back of his mind a more disgusting possibility was taking shape. The ignition was empty, so he knew exactly where to find the keys, not only to his car, but also his house and his office. Only seconds earlier, those precious keys had slid off his tray and followed a half-eaten corncob and many bones to the bottom of a trash can. He had thrown away his keys on all-you-can-eat rib night. His friends weren’t going to do the dirty work for him. So he dove into the dumpster, fishing through bones, beans, barbecue, corn, cake, coleslaw, and a host of saliva-soaked napkins. A shiny layer of trash can slime coated his arms before he finally grabbed those precious keys.

David reflects theologically on his experience: “As I meditate on the incarnation this Christmas season, I think about our dumpster-diving God. I mean no disrespect by calling him that. On the contrary, I have a soaring adoration for the infinite God who left a pristine, sinless heaven to search through the filth and rubbish of this fallen world for something precious to him — me.” (David Slagle, Decatur, Georgia)

And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth. –John 1:14


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