Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Home for Christmas (11/20/08)
By Fiona Dorothy Stevenson
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The Bible College students were coming to strut their stuff. The church was well filled. Few of the congregation were absent. It was an honor to host the students for lunch after the service, but as six students did not divide very well into thirty-five or forty expectant hosts, the decision was taken to have a combined luncheon in the church hall. Each family contributed a part of the overall menu.
As the event was planned for mid-December it was also decided to incorporate the seasonal break-up of the various para-church groups. The hall was bright with bunting. The tables groaned with gastronomic delights.
In the church itself, shafts of the mid-morning sun played on the polished pews; a gentle breeze ruffled the curls of the girls who sat closest to the windows. Sheryl thumped the piano vigorously, voices rose in a glad abandon of praise.
But Dora was homesick.
On the morrow the students would disperse to their homes in various corners of the country. There would be family to welcome them. Family to rejoice with them in the honors they had gained, to be interested in the new things they had learned. They would be home for Christmas, home with their loved ones, in their familiar places. Home.
Dora was a migrant, in many respects a refugee. For several weeks she had been writing letters, sending Christmas cards, looking for small inexpensive mementos for loved ones, church friends, one time neighbors. As she posted them she prayed for their safe arrival. But more often she prayed for the safety of the people still living in her war torn homeland. She prayed for those, like herself, who had migrated, that they would find acceptance, a new church family, a new homeland.
Yes, Dora was homesick.
She stood alone in the crowded church, singing she knew not what with mechanical mouth. When the congregation sat, Dora sat. She shook herself and tried to concentrate while the speaker was announced. “… Neville … third year honors student … “
Neville smiled at the faces lifted to him and thanked the congregation for their invitation. He asked one of his companions to read the scripture on which his message was based, Hebrews chapter eleven, verses one to six. Dora’s interest flagged. The familiar passage was the basis of countless sermons heard over many years of church attendance.
In a desperate attempt to concentrate on the Word of God she read on, digging at the faith of Noah, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and Sara. Verse by verse she examined the evidences of their faith, considered the promises they grasped.
Suddenly, there was verse thirteen. “These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.”
Her heart skipped a beat. She knew what it meant to be a stranger and a pilgrim on the earth. She was in complete agreement with verse fourteen, “For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country.” By now she knew that she was involved in a private conversation with the Lord. The anguish of her heart poured out in the words of the scriptures open upon her lap.
The Lord answered her in verses fifteen and sixteen, “And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for He hath prepared for them a city.”
Dora stopped and read the passage again. And again. She was unaware of the tears that dripped and drenched her hands.
Very slowly she read the passage again from verse seven. Gradually her heart stopped thumping. She closed the Bible, closed her eyes and leaned back in the pew, resting on the loving rebuke. With realization came certainty. She was safe. She was secure. She was home with the Father. “… having seen them far off … were persuaded of them … “ Home is not an earthly place, an earthly family, precious as these are. Home is the heart of the Father.
Dora was home.
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