Like cold water to a weary soul is good news from a distant land.
Wilderness Camp is a yearly tradition at the school that I work at: during the first week of October, small teams of 11th graders embark upon a four-day backpacking trip into the woods and mountains surrounding Tokyo. One inevitable take-away from the days of hiking and camping is a list of things the students had previously taken for granted. Usually topping the list is water. As trails steepen and the sweat starts to pour, water-breaks not only become a want, but a need.
Tired, sore and dehydrated, the way forward seems impossible, the next peak just a little too steep. Water refreshes the thirsting, weary body, and enables the exhausted sojourner to press on.
What an apt analogy to describe the arrival of good news! Though Solomon’s kingdom enjoyed peace and prosperity, Israel’s position between major world powers was never entirely secure. Sandwiched between powerful and vast ancient civilizations, the Israelites lived in the midst of tensions over land, resources and cultural differences that must have seemed so much bigger than them. Surely their call to bless the nations seemed at times out of reach while living in expectation not of good news, but of invasion or rumors of invasion!
Yet the news that we now reflect upon in this Advent season was not merely good news; it was the best news! Notably, the news wasn’t arriving in Bethlehem from a distant land; rather, Bethlehem was the epicenter and the news was to be broadcast to many distant lands, world over! Millennia of stumbling, weariness and hopelessness arrived at that moment to receive nothing less than history’s greatest water-break. We persevere today in the renewal and refreshment of the good news of Christ. Quenched with this knowledge, our thirst slaked by Christ’s spirit, we push on, secure in the trust that the hike is not impossible.