“He’s coming next week! He’ll bring a whole entourage of dignitaries. It’s the most important day ever in the life of the village!” The chairman of the little village had come to visit me with this important news and was sitting in my living room sipping on a cup of tea my wife has quickly heated up to welcome him. It seems the Regional Commissioner (equivalent to our State Governor) had planned a visit to build relationships with the local people of our tiny little village near the end of the dusty road. The people of the entire village were given daily assignments to go out and repair the roads leading into the village by removing big stones and filling in the ever-deepening the water run-off ditches by throwing dirt on the roads. The village chairman was requesting asking me to host the lunch feast after the town meeting at my home, which had a big room and tables sufficient to accommodate around 40 people.
The village was a stir of activity as people cut down tree branches, picked my bushes clean of any flowers, swept the dirt paths of loose gravel and made preparations for the guest. The people were taxed to gather enough chickens to butcher, vegetables were harvested or purchased, and a cow in the village was sacrificed for the guests and village leaders to eat. We got the house ready, arranged the tables and chairs we borrowed from neighbors and the church, and our kitchen became a hub of activity at sunrise that morning to prepare for the 1 p.m. luncheon.
That morning at 9 a.m. the school children from the village primary school were released from class to line the dusty road leading up to the village office dressed in their blue and white school uniforms. They each found a small branch of evergreen – mostly from my yard – to hold and wave and cheer when the dignitaries arrived. I must admit when seeing all the fuss even Kathy and I became anxious to meet the long time Regional Commissioner (who was a former war veteran and officer as well). The waiting began. By 11 a.m. he still had not arrived. At about 1 p.m. the food had been ready for over an hour and the procession hadn’t begun, kids weren’t gleefully lining the road any longer, but running around soiling their clean uniforms as kids would do, and the ladies group preparing the food at our home began to eat it and complain!
He finally showed up at about 2:30 p.m., held a 30 minute town meeting with all the villagers who hadn’t given up and gone to their gardens, refused to visit their primary school that had undergone considerable remodeling in the week prior to his visit and implored the village officials to “Hurry up and get us to lunch as we’re hungry and need to move on.” So the delegation came to my house, we seated them all, I led in prayer of thankfulness to the Lord for his provision and for the leadership he placed over us, and we dug in. At that point someone pointed out to me who the “big wig” was and I walked over to greet him and show respect. He stood as I approached, I nervously greeting him, “Shigamoo Mheshimiwa” – literally meaning, “I hold your feet Oh respected one.” As he stood, I noted he was short and squatted and the top of his head was below my chin (kind of like Major Dan in Forrest Gump after losing his legs in battle).
They finished the meal and hurried off, not showing particular appreciation or enjoyment for the days and hours of labor extended in preparation of that “special day.”
As I looked at the mess left behind, all I could think of was “what a disappointment.” But as I spoke with the villagers in the days that followed I never heard that sentiment from them.
Oh, how different the coming of our Lord was! He wasn’t a dignitary with people organizing His reception, even though he was Lord of the Universe. No one cleared the road and decorated for his arrival by 4-wheel drive, rather they walked the rugged roads with only a donkey. He didn’t have a room readied for Him or cooks prepping for his entourage hours ahead, He was given a stable as there was no room for him. His arrival route wasn’t lined by uniformed school kids, but it was sounded by angels in the heavens! He wasn’t accompanied by political figures hoping to glean some of His glory for themselves, rather unlearned shepherds were heralded with the good news, and the politician sought to know of Christ’s coming only in order to extinguish him! His coming was not just to show His face, gain political clout, and return to a better life, rather it was to live among the lowly and sympathize with their needs, and ultimately to give His life for their greatest need! Thank you, Lord, for Your coming — THAT is something to celebrate!
Ponder the wonder of His coming – the true “humbling of Himself in all ways” (Philippians 2:5-8)