Growing up I was always in, around and living in the country.  As I got older and began to intermingle with folks I was (and am still) amazed at how little some folks have experienced living out in the country, such that when the stars come out at night the stars sparkle like diamonds, or when walking into a cow pasture the smell of hay and manure are likable smells and there is something tender about feeding newborn calves on the bottle.  If you can’t relate to such, don’t feel bad, many folks can’t relate nor do they care to.

Which brings me to DONKEY!  For some, DONKEY is mostly the character out of the “Shrek” movie series.  He had a great country drawl (what else would expect of an animal who resides in the country),  made some funny comments, got caught a few times in making errors in judgment, thus the word…. Well, you get the point. If not, just ask! Lol.

I have had a couple experiences with DONKEY, a real donkey.  The two I remember most happened when I served a couple of small churches as a student pastor.  Then it was called the Athens-Cross Roads United Methodist Churches in Claiborne Parish.

My mother told me that at mid-night on Christmas Eve all donkeys kneel in honor of the birth of Christ.  So, one cold, frosty Christmas Eve night we drove out on the road between Hwy 80-E and the road that leads to Athens, LA.  We parked on an area that drives into a pasture, and we waited to see if indeed the donkeys would kneel at mid-night.  Lo and behold!  They were kneeling!  True story!  Of course, later I surmised that donkeys probably kneel-down every night regardless of the time simply to rest and sleep.

In some ways I feel a little foolish about that experience, except for the fact my mother and I sat in the car together, both smoking a Viceroy cigarette, and shared what we both thought was a Holy Night.  It didn’t matter, of course, if the donkeys knelt or not.  What really got us out that night was the fact that we knew how special the night was–it was the night of our dear Savior’s birth.

In that same community where I served the Athens-Cross Roads United Methodist Churches, I had some really young and “wild  bucks” in the church. [Here you can supplement “wild bucks” to young men.]  They were great guys, and God only knows all the shenanigans they pulled.  However, every Sunday morning they were in church, and always had a good time “picking on the preacher.”

There was a little make-do rodeo corral out east of Athens, and on Friday and Saturday nights they had what was called a “showdeo,” a much simpler form of a rodeo.  There would a few broncos ridden, a few barrel races, etc. Nothing big! Lots of fun!

ON one particular night I was introduced to DONKEY. He was a white donkey, really small and seemed quite the gentle sort. In fact, I had seen him run into a chute,  grown men getting on him and then the chute would open and off the donkey and cowboy would go.  I watched this a few times, and then I told one of the young bucks, “Buzzie” Buckner, if he would pay the $3 for me to ride him, I would do it.  However, there was one request I made–put a bridal on him for me to hold on to.  “Buzzie’s” reply was, “Okay, preacher. We’ll take care of you!”  And they did take care of me.

They ran the little white donkey into the chute.  I got down in the shoot, wrapped my legs underneath the little fellow, and said, “Okay, put a bridal on him.”  The next thing I heard was, “Okay boys, let him go!” Out of the shoot I came riding atop of a little white donkey having only his mane to use for a bridal.  He didn’t buck, but what he did do was take off like a full-speed ahead quarter horse. Eventually I ended up under him where he stomped me in the back.  They said there were some alarming expletives that I used. Of course, I didn’t remember that because I seeing stars for a few moments!


You never know what a donkey may cause a person to do–go out on a cold, Christmas Eve night to see if he kneels or try to ride one.  For after all, how much harm could one little white donkey do?!  I mean really!

Last Sunday morning my wife and I attended worship at First United Methodist Church, Lake Charles, and heard the Chancel Choir presentation of “The Magnificat” by John Rutter.  It is a beautiful and masterful piece of music which centers on the Song of Mary, the expectant Mother of Jesus, in which she proclaims after receiving word of Who she would birth (Luke 1: 46-55):

My soul glorifies the Lord, *
my spirit rejoices in God, my Saviour.
He looks on his servant in her lowliness; *
henceforth all ages will call me blessed.
The Almighty works marvels for me. *
Holy his name!
His mercy is from age to age, *
on those who fear him.
He puts forth his arm in strength *
and scatters the proud-hearted.
He casts the mighty from their thrones *
and raises the lowly.
He fills the starving with good things, *
sends the rich away empty.
He protects Israel, his servant, *
remembering his mercy,
the mercy promised to our fathers, *
to Abraham and his sons for ever.

Following the presentation of “The Magnificant” I was talking to one of the church members and he said,  “That young girl [Mary] had no idea what she was getting into when she rode the donkey to Bethlehem to give birth to Jesus.”

He is right, you know!

This Christmas Eve, let’s remember that Mary, the holy Mother of God, had her own experience on Christmas Eve of riding on a donkey led by Joseph to a manger in Bethlehem. On another day this Christ Child who will be fully God and fully man will ride a donkey into the City of Jerusalem.