The Ox In A Ditch
"Oxinaditch" (oks' in uh dich)Bethlehem, PA c.a. 1989(1)noun. Any unforeseen, biblically founded reason to skip any portion of otherwise obligatory Church-related activity. (2) interrogative An interjection intended to question and/or confirm that someone has recently experienced a situation that prevented him/her from attending an otherwise obligatory Church-related function.
Minister after minister in our area would refer to a biblical verse that pertained to the infamous "ox in the ditch" scenario. The verse was intended to illustrate to the congregation that only in cases of (this rather arcane) genuine emergency should brethren do something on the Sabbath that would otherwise mean breaking it. In modern language, I guess, "ox in the ditch" meant simply extenuating circumstances.
Among my parents' closest circle of friends, who, during the latter years of Worldwide Church of God attendance were all "fencers," (i.e. people who were hanging on to the Worldwide Church of God but not really adhering to church rules, but who were still capable of sliding off the other side back into "the world") we would take an informal attendance at every service.
If someone was absent any given Sabbath, the rest of the group of friends would heckle the offending party next time he/she appeared: "So, where were you last week? . . . One of those 'ox-in-a-ditch' situations, no doubt?. I see."
Hence, "ox-in-a-ditch" became a new watchword. The number of occurrences of this type of situation grew exponentially over time. One day, a friend of my Dad's came into services rather late and explained his tardiness sarcastically, "Yup, I was on my way to church and I stumbled upon an 'ox-inaditch,'. . . just had to take care of it."
Later that year another of my Dad's friends explained that he wouldn't be able to attend the upcoming Feast of Tabernacles at all. My Dad just shook his head and muttered, "Oxinaditch, huh?"
Eventually, "oxinaditches" became synonymous with good fortune. "Oxinaditches" could be predicted with an increasing degree of accuracy. "Oxinaditches" would be an all-purpose cover-up of tendencies to skip anything that was known to be predictably bad.
My folks would attend jsut once every 4-8 weeks as they weaned themselves off of the Worldwide Church of God. But there would always be a friendly face or two holding the door to the meeting hall open whenever they arrived or smiling across the room from a neighboring aisle. A wink, combined with "Oxinaditch?" and a knowing smile would be their standard greeting from the fellow "fencers" still left in the Worldwide Church of God.
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