Every day this Advent we will be sharing reflections from Christian authors. Today's is by Pam Rhodes.
Have you ever been lucky enough to join others on a pilgrimage trip to the Holy Land? It’s a fascinating, and actually very emotional experience to be at those places whose names you’ve known all your life from stories in the Bible. But if you’ve ever managed to go there, you’ll know it can be exhausting too, because it’s a whistle-stop trip to fit in so many unforgettable sites in a short space of time. You’re forever climbing on and off the coach, camera at the ready, tearing round from one significant location to another at breakneck speed, because you don’t want to miss out on any of them!
There were about forty of us travelling on our coach, generally a very happy crowd – but I soon realised there was a lot of grumbling going on about one passenger, a delightful, elderly lady called Phyllis who was always the last one back to the coach, holding everybody up! And they wouldn’t have minded if she were disabled in some way – but her tardiness was her own silly fault! She couldn’t walk any faster because she was wearing completely the wrong footwear – huge, open-toed, leather flip-flops that looked several sizes too big for her. She was an accident waiting to happen!
And it did. While we were wandering around the town of Bethlehem, she took a tumble which left her more shaken that hurt – but after that, for the rest of the afternoon, I kept her company as we meandered around together at our own speed.
And that was when she told me her story. This pilgrimage was the culmination of a life-time’s dream for her, something she’d always longed to do. But most exciting of all, when she booked it a year earlier, she’d bought a place not just for herself, but for her son too, because he really wanted to share the experience with her.
But in the months that followed, he developed a severe form of cancer, and by the time the trip came around, he was far too ill to travel. So, the shoes she was wearing were his shoes, because she wanted him to be able to walk in the footsteps of Christ.
How humble. How faithful How loving. And how that echoes another mother in Bethlehem 2000 years earlier, who humbly, faithfully and lovingly gave birth to a son. She cared for him as he grew, and worried about him, as all mothers do. She felt pride in all his achievements – but as time went on, she came to know that one day she would watch him die.
Like everyone on that coach, I had been so quick to judge the book by the cover, to make a snap decision on Phyllis that was so superficial and dismissive. In fact, the example she set - her faith, and the depth of her love both for her son and for God’s son – shames and humbles us all.
Tidings of Comfort and Joy by Pam Rhodes: Pam Rhodes is best known as the familiar face of the BBC's Songs of Praise, and here she brings together her personal selection of carols, poems, Bible readings and other inspirational passages from a wide range of sources. As well as the usual old favourites - from Hark the Herald Angels Sing to the stories of the shepherds and the wise men visiting the baby Jesus - there are plenty of lighter moments, with excerpts from Gervase Phinn's memoirs and funny poems by modern writers.
December 22nd, 2018 - Posted & Written by The Editor