As the sun set in the distance over the snowy peaks of the southern alps, Steve looked weary and longed for a bed to lie down his tired frame. He had been toiling with immense labours for the last five days, away from home, and all over the farm. Things had not been the same on the farm for a long time. Ever since it happened. Ever since C153, the rare disease had spread through his cattle.
At first, he had thought it would not be too bad. Then it steadily got worse. After two weeks, things weren't too bad. By month three, he had realised his cattle were losing weight. By month six, he had lost a tenth of his herd. By the end of the first year, the culling had begun. The "officials" turned up one day and begun helping him sort out his cattle problem. They shot two-thirds of his animals. That left him with only a hundred, of which at least half were sick.
As he looked at the setting sun, he thought of his wife and kids at home. How would he provide? His thoughts turned to better days. When the meat was rich, the vats were full, and the bank account full. He thought of the days when his family lay on beds of ivory, stretched themselves out on couches, ate fattened lambs and calves. When they sang sweet tunes and made beautiful music. They drank wine, and they anointed themselves with the finest oil. Those were days of glory worth remembering. "Where is the glory now?" He wondered out loud. "Ruined, ruined, it's all ruined," he muttered, and yet tears glistened as they slowly rolled down his cheeks. The sorrow and heartache of seeing his glorious family farm brought into utter destruction was almost too much to bare. It had been passed from generation to generation for 400 years. Long had the name "McGregor Farm", been held in awe and respect by every farmer in the land, but now, the farm's nickname, and Steve's, was Ichabod, the glory has departed.
He was on his way home now to see his wife and three wonderful children. As he walked through the gate to his home, what would he find? What state would his wife be in? As he hung his leather hat on the hook and hung up his brown leather coat upon the coat hook, a noise caught his attention. He heard a sound that he hadn't heard for a long time. It wasn't the noise of crying, but the sound of partying and revelry. This sound hadn't been heard in his house for too many months. The sound was like a faint memory from a distant past, when times were good and lives were worth living.
As he opened the door, the little chime of the doorbell went to signal the lover of this family. Yet rather than being greeted by his wife and children with dark faces, his wife greeted him with twelve other men and women from town. "Honey, welcome home," Lucy said with a smile on her face and a glass of wine in her hand. She was wearing her favourite party dress, the pink one with the white collar and ruffles that cause the dress to float like a cloud. She looked simply stunning. The children were in the background spinning around, playing a game with the neighbourhood children. They too were in their best party clothes, hats and all!
As Steve looked past her, he saw the last of their food sitting on the table, and the last of their money had been spent on everything needed for the party. He stood, aghast, with his mouth open, unable to speak. Eventually he stammered out, "L...L...Lucy, what are you doing?" Her eyes didn't drop, her shoulders didn't droop, she steered at him with a look of vanity and hollow mirth and said, "Having a party my dear! Just like always! I have invited all the neighbours, and even grumpy old Mike turned up to join in! Don't worry though, I bought your favourite port for your return, and the table is laden with all your favourite treats and dainties."
Steve felt it coming. Heat slowly coming up his spine, rising to his neck, the rising of a tide of wrath. "Get out!" He roared with the anger of a man bereft of sanity, speaking to the guests. He picked up his shotgun with a menacing look at the guests, "You have thirty seconds to find your coat and see yourself out, or you will leave with holes in your shirts!" The guests looked at him with confusion on their faces. Grumpy old Mike looked at Lucy and asked, "Is there something wrong with Steve? We are just enjoying the glory of the McGregor farm, as we always have done". "Yes," replied another, "Nothing beats Lucy's warm parties at the McGregor estate!"
Lucy approached her husband with gaiety in her face that showed she clearly had no appreciation for the gravity of the situation. She said, "My dear Steve, put the gun down and join us in the party! How incredibly odd you are being at such a time as this! We should celebrate with abandonment in the glory of the McGregor farm." "Don't you get it," Steve said, with tears running down his face, "The glory has gone! There is no money, the herds are dying, and the last of our food is sitting upon the table being savagely consumed by the masses you have brought into this room." For a brief second it looked as though Lucy might understand, but as quick as it came it passed again, "Nonsense my dear," she said, "everything is fine. We lie on beds of ivory, stretch ourselves on couches, eat fattened lambs and calves, we sing sweet tunes and make beautiful music. We drink wine and anoint ourselves with the finest of oil!"
Steve looked with exasperation and croaked out, "Don't you care that the farm is ruined? And the glory of my name with it?" Lucy considered this, as though it was something she had never thought of before and eventually said, "I am not so fussed for the glory of the McGregor name, as long as I get to enjoy my party, and with that she turned around on her heel and went back to the guests."
The last thing Lucy heard was the tingle of the bell as Steve saw himself out. He slumped into the rocking chair on the deck and picked up his Bible. He read the passage where his bookmark was found. Amos 6:4-8, "Woe to those who lie on beds of ivory and stretch themselves out on their couches, and eat lambs from the flock and calves from the midst of the stall, who sing idle songs to the sound of the harp and like David invent for themselves instruments of music, who drink wine in bowls and anoint themselves with the finest oils, but are not grieved over the ruin of Joseph! Therefore they shall now be the first of those who go into exile, and the revelry of those who stretch themselves out shall pass away." And with the noise of revelry behind him, he realised he was not the first one to deal with a people that cared not for glory, he just wished it was different. The last thought that crossed his mind, before he gave way to grief like a tsunami, was, "Why do we care not for the glory that lasts?"
This piece was contributed by Logan Hagoort, Pastor at Covenant Presbyterian Church.