by Bob Wickizer

This Little Child
Rev. Bob Wickizer
Isaiah 11:1-10; Psalm 72:1-8; Romans 15:4-13; Matthew 3:1-12
9 December 2001, Sermon Proper 2A, Advent 2

In the 1980s I traveled a great deal on business when air travel was much less complicated than today. One Friday night I boarded a connecting flight from Phoenix to Los Angeles, sat down in my seat and noticed this grizzled older man headed down the aisle clutching several paper bags. Friday evening travel on those sardine can DC9 connector flights found everyone bone weary from the week's business and anxious to get home. The airplane was full of business people in suits carrying their briefcases, each hoping for a little privacy like an empty seat next to them. My reverie was shattered as a bearded, scruffy desert bagman shuffled past me to sit in the adjacent seat. I felt uncomfortable from the moment he sat down almost as if he had an energy field surrounding him.

After an uneventful take off I attempted to break the uneasy tension with some small talk. My seatmate I learned lived alone in the Arizona desert miles from anything. His paper bags contained coffee cans with small cactus plants. When the beverage cart appeared he paid for two bottles of red wine with crumpled dollar bills and finished both with his snack. Throughout the flight he muttered things under his breath either half asleep or possibly half drunk.

When we landed at LAX all the anxious business people jumped up quickly to grab their carry-on stuff and head for the next flight home. The unloading ritual was interrupted by a gruff and unmistakable voice from my seatmate. Everyone on the crowded and noisy plane quit talking and you could hear the man's pronouncements in the electric silence.

"You're all a bunch of communists," he shouted. Finger pointing and making eye contact with everyone around him he railed, "You do no good for this country all you who wear suits." At this point I thought the guy was a nut but he continued. ...

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