One of my favorite Advent stories is about a missionary couple on the eastern coast of Africa. They were waiting to go back to the United States, their home country, after having served for over twenty years and impacting two generations of people in the village where they were assigned.
They were temporarily waiting in a location many miles inland from the coast until their arrangements were finalized for them to return to the U.S. for Christmas and for retirement.
One morning during the season of Advent, a few days before they were to fly out, there was a knock at the door. A young man, the son of a family they had known during their entire time on the African coast, greeted them. He was holding a small box that contained a gift that he told them could decorate their tree as a reminder of his family’s love for them.
“Did your family travel with you?” asked the missionary. He knew they were one of the very few families in the small village that had a vehicle. “No,” said the young man. “I walked. I got rides when I could, but mostly I walked. I left my village shortly after you took the train here a couple of weeks ago.”
The couple was shocked. “You didn’t have to walk all this way to give us this gift!” they said. As much as we appreciate the ornament, we would have treasured it just as much if you had mailed it.” The young man then replied, “The long journey is part of the gift!”
As we make the long journey through Advent toward the celebration of the birth of our Savior, we are reminded of an even longer journey: the journey of the Incarnation, when “The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood” (John 1:14, The Message).
May our hearts be filled with anticipation and gratitude as we walk together toward the Savior and the new kingdom He brings.
Prayer for the Week:
God of hope and promise, be with us throughout this Advent season, and draw us ever closer as we journey together toward the stable and the birth of your Son, our Savior. Amen. (From John Birch at www.faithandworship.com)
Charles W. Christian is managing editor of Holiness Today.
Written for Coffee Break with Holiness Today.