A Rescue Story!

It is estimated that between sixty and a hundred million homeless cats live in the U.S. (peta.org). Many of them have been abandoned. Some will be sheltered for a time. A few will be fortunate enough to be rescued. A male cat named Trauma is one of the lucky ones! A cat DNA would be required (and yes, there is such a thing!) to definitively identify his breed. He is thought to be a smaller version of the Maine Coon which is one of the oldest natural breeds in North America.

Trauma: Healthy and Happy!

Trauma’s rescue story began with a woman who worked as a Trail Crew guide for the United States Forest Service. Marty (not her real name) made a career of planning hiking trips for adventurous individuals. This put her in peak physical condition as she was often required to carry heavy gear as a part of her job.

Fifteen years ago, Marty was out in the great outdoors when she happened upon a mangy cat that was obviously homeless and in great physical and probable psychological distress! In light of his condition, Trauma was given an appropriate name! Through gentle persuasion, Marty was able to befriend this undernourished, abandoned, and frightened feline. She invited Trauma into her home. Eventually. she won the trust of this beautiful animal and a much-needed rescue was complete!

That was then and this is now. Today, they both reside in an independent senior living facility where I serve as a chaplain. Marty walks around getting her exercise each day with Trauma on a leash right beside her. Owner and pet are enjoying the companionship, happiness, and security in this new setting and chapter of their lives. They are a blessing to each other! Research suggests that having a pet is an excellent way to build a healthy sense of mental well-being. This seems to be working for both Marty and Trauma!

I love rescue stories! One important aspect of the Christmas story is about how infant Jesus, and his mother Mary and Joseph escaped a great threat by King Herod, who in his jealousy pretended that he wanted to see the new baby after encountering some inquiring Stargazers. These priest-astrologers from Persian were on a quest to find the newly born child of hope that had been revealed to them.

Matthew, in his gospel account, tells the story of how the Magi came to visit Herod. They were looking for the child-king of the Jews and wanted to worship him. Herod, feigning sincerity and devotion, sent them to Bethlehem, instructing them, “Go find this child. Leave no stone unturned. As soon as you find him, send word and I’ll join you at once in your worship.” (Matthew 2:8, MSG).

Instead of worship, Herod devised a dastardly plan to do great harm to the child! There are many not so subtle threats within this beautiful season that seek to undermine the Christmas story. Materialism and commercialism that result in excessive, costly gift-giving may be one of them. Apathy and indifference to the whole idea of Christmas may be another threat. Bah humbug! Grief, disappointment, and depression may also threaten individuals who have experienced great loss and want to give up on God.

Will Willimon reminds us, in his recent book on Advent, that God wants to surprise and awaken us at this season to new realities. He writes, “The best Christmas sermon I ever heard was from the pastor who stood up on Christmas Eve and simply said to his congregation, ‘Tonight I have some breaking news.’ Then he leaned into the microphone for good effect and said, ‘Good news. Tonight, the invasion has begun! We’re about to be liberated!’ And we sat down and we sang Christmas carols like our lives depended on it, which of course, they do.” (Heaven and Earth, p.50).  

The Christmas story is a great rescue story of how Jesus came to earth on a mission “to seek and to save the lost!”  This world needs rescue! Thank God! Help is on the way!

Mike Keppler, retired pastor,

active churchman and
doting grandparent.
Contact: drmjkeppler@gmail.com



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