An experience in Africa in 1998 provides some comfort and hope to those waiting for Jesus this Advent 2020. Never fear. He IS coming.
Senior Content Editor
One thing about a pandemic … it teaches us about what we value.
As Advent 2020 begins, I have discovered just how much the journey to Christmas focuses on “going.” Going shopping for Christmas gifts and decorations. Going to church for Bible study, cantatas, candle-lighting, and traditional Christmas Eve activities. Going to the homes of friends to celebrate the season. Going to the Nutcracker for entertainment or to the Food Pantry to serve. Going over the river and through the woods to Grandmother’s (or some dear one’s) house to enjoy a meal and holiday rituals with family.
This year a lot of our usual going is gone as we stay home to stay safe from the virus. Where’s the joy in that? What a bummer of an Advent this promises to be!
But Advent is not really about going, is it? As I am reminded by a nativity set that I just arranged in our living room.
The pink soapstone crèche was purchased in Nairobi, Kenya, during my first trip to Africa in 1998. I wanted a set to add to my collection, and we were told we could find one at the Blue Dukas. The Blue Dukas were a labyrinth of blue-tarped booths near the city center. The cab driver took us straight there and left us on the sidewalk.
Unsure of how to navigate the Dukas to find what we were after, my husband, Lynn, said from the street corner in a very loud voice: “Does anyone in there have a nativity set for sale?”
Blink of an eye … two men appeared on the sidewalk beside us, extolling the virtues of the nativity set in their duka. We followed them to the booth. Newspaper flew, and figures quickly appeared on top of the table in the middle of the Duka.
“There! Is that not the most beautiful, the most wonderful, the most lovely nativity set in all the world?” the duka-keeper exclaimed. To which Lynn replied, “Very nice indeed. But where’s the baby?”
“Jesus is coming!!!” the assistant proclaimed with a finger held high and a smile triumphant. One last piece of newspaper fell to the floor, and the infant entered the scene. After a bit of bartering, the purchase was complete. We found our way out of the Dukas and back to the guest house.
Twenty-two years later and back in Michigan, it is important to remember that Advent is about coming more than going.
It’s Advent 2020. It really doesn’t matter where we are or are not going. What matters is Jesus is coming. Be ready to open your heart as the Christ Child comes to you, offering peace, hope, joy, and healing.