Some of the surest signs of Christ are rarely where you expect them.

A few years ago, Andy and I delivered a weekly Mobile Meals route. One couple lived just outside of the main neighborhood where we delivered. Although only a block away, their neglected little shack was secluded and felt like an entirely different world.

They were both ragged from a hard life. She was a good bit younger than he, but was frail and seemed much older. Their home was filthy, with chewing tobacco stains covering the furniture and junk piled everywhere. The intensity of their situation was overwhelming—the utter poverty and startling lack of education. It took a while for them to trust us.

Some days I dreaded going. It was my lunch hour, and a busy afternoon was always ahead. Visiting sometimes required more than I wanted to give.

In time, I came to notice dozens of little figurines on the shelves beneath the clutter. It was evidence that she was once younger and cared about collecting such things. Perhaps she had not been so worn down by the world—not so jaded and bitter. It was difficult to imagine what she may have been like then.

When the holidays approached, we asked if we could bring Thanksgiving dinner to their home, and they accepted. We spent Thanksgiving Day with our family, enjoying the abundance of warmth, luxury and laughter. As I thought of visiting our Mobile Meals friends later that evening, I couldn’t shake the appalling contrast between our worlds. How could these opposite realities exist just a couple of miles apart?

With two extra dinner plates in hand, we slipped out early to see our friends. We sat together in the gloom of their home while families everywhere enjoyed their holiday. I found it hard to know what to say during this kind of Thanksgiving feast.

They told us again and again how much it meant. Their Thanksgiving Day was usually the same as any other: Cold. Nothing good to eat. Few visitors. Little hope. Their own family did not even come.

We had not realized this visit would mean more to us than it did to our friends, but they offered us the surest sign of Christ in our entire Thanksgiving holiday. We saw proof that the love of Christ brings light and hope to the darkest corners of the world.

It was a gift that began long ago, when Mary and Joseph settled into a stable. With inadequate shelter, uncomfortable ground, and no medical care, their reality was grim, bleak, and dreary. And yet the coming of Christ was so beautiful, it overpowered all that was lacking on earth.

Beth Lancaster

About the Contributor

Beth Lancaster has been a member of First Presbyterian Church for nearly 15 years and has served on the Diaconate, as a Sunday School leader for children and adults, and on various committees. She is married to Andy and has two children, William (7) and Kate (5), who have been nurtured since birth by our children’s ministry and Weekday School. Beth is the director of media relations for Converse College.