Unsung Saints Advent 2020

The 9th day of Christmas, 2 January

Hebrews 11:1-12

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the people of old received their commendation. By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.

By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through which he was commended as righteous, God commending him by accepting his gifts. And through his faith, though he died, he still speaks. By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death, and he was not found, because God had taken him. Now before he was taken he was commended as having pleased God. And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household. By this he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.

By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God. By faith Sarah herself received power to conceive, even when she was past the age, since she considered him faithful who had promised. Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born descendants as many as the stars of heaven and as many as the innumerable grains of sand by the seashore.

Lady, Dog of my Childhood


My oldest memories reach back to age two. We lived in a rent house in Texarkana, Arkansas, with a tree-filled lot between our house and the Owens family. Our Dad worked deep nights as a telegraph operator for the Texas and Pacific Railroad. When he got off work, he threw the Texarkana newspaper for extra money. Mama had a busy toddler to watch and a household to run during the day, while Norman, who was eleven, and Donna and Mona, who were nine, were in school. Meanwhile, Dad slept days.

I have no childhood memories that do not include Lady. She was white, long-haired, with light brown ears that bent over, and a bushy tail that curved up over her back. She had wandered up, an obviously abused animal, hungry, skittish, and desperate for love. Often, to our Mama’s displeasure, Dad took in strays. Norman wanted Lady to be his dog, and Dad agreed. Donna tells me I couldn’t say “Lady,” and so it was “Yady” for whom I called when she doubtless wanted to get away from a rowdy two-year-old.

Lady was very protective of me, and, even when I was much larger, Norman could pretend that he was hurting me. Lady would growl at him and grab hold of his pants’ leg with her teeth and shake it like prey until he had released me. His favorite form of torture was to hold my arms down with his knees while he tickled me. Lady was not amused.

I remember our drive to Bonham when I was four. Dad had bid on and been accepted as the agent-yardmaster for the railroad. It was a step up in pay and responsibility that led to the purchase of their only home. All the kids and Mama did not want to leave Texarkana. Dad had a slip with a monkey wrench while disconnecting the washing machine, ended up taking stitches and having the eye bandaged shut, Mama, a new and not confident driver, was at the wheel of their first car since the marriage thirteen years earlier. Dad was a wreck, and so was Mama. The kids were teary-eyed or sullen. Lady was carsick.

We arrived at our rent house, conveniently located within walking distance of the schools, but sorely in need of a paint job, of trimming, and everything else. Mama was in tears. The kids were miserable. Lady did what dogs do. She explored the new digs and settled in until we moved to our new home.

A favorite memory is of Lady with Sally, a part Dalmatian puppy that the local train crew found on the tracks. Lady was the older, dignified dowager, Sally was the hyperactive, always hungry pretender to the throne. Each evening, my job was to open a can of Vigo dog food, purchased by the case at Safeway, at each end and push the can of food into the dogs’ bowls. Sally would grab the can-shaped glob of dogfood in midair and swallow it in two bites. Lady would wait for hers to be in her bowl, cut up with the edge of a spoon, and delicately and slowly savor each bite. Sally would dance around hoping for leftovers. Lady would agonizingly go slower and slower. She would leave two bites to show she was full, wait for Sally to approach the bowl, and then pee on the food and walk away. I’ve known a few people like that.

Lady went on every scout camp out with me from 5th to 9th grade. The last was a district camporee, and my scoutmaster said she couldn’t go. That was the weekend our 15-year-old dog fell asleep under a car in a neighbor’s driveway. A visitor ran over Lady when she backed out of the driveway. We cried for two weeks, and I never allowed another dog into my heart until Josie, who died last March at age 17. I still look forward to seeing Lady in the resurrection. I suspect Josie and she are dear friends. And Sally is no longer tormented and is content. So… those who think dogs aren’t there should maybe reread Revelation 21, where the Lord Jesus talks about making all things new. A new heaven and a new earth. Oh, yes!!!

Father, thank you for Lady and all the dogs who are signs of your loving care for us. In Jesus’ holy name we pray. Amen.

Place thirty-five pennies, nickels, or dimes into a bowl or box out of love for neighbors in need

St Matthew's Pastor Sam Zumwalt

Pastor Samuel D. Zumwalt, STS
St Matthew's Evangelical Lutheran Church
Wilmington, NC

English Standard Version (ESV)

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.