Day 7 of Advent: It Begins with the Manger

Light looked down and saw darkness.
“I will go there,” said Light.

Peace looked down and saw war.
“I will go there,” said Peace.

Love looked down and saw hatred.
“I will go there,” said Love.

So he,
the Lord of Light,
the Prince of Peace,
the King of Love
came down and crept in beside us.
Cloth for the Cradle,
Wild Goose Worship Group

“The greatest journeys are the ones that take you home.”
The Namesake

The Word became flesh; he dwelt among us. He, the Light of the World, the Prince of Peace, and the King of Love, took up residence with us. He became our Emmanuel–God with us. He who once claimed heaven as home willingly and purposefully made the journey to earth. In doing so he gave us a sense of what home–our present home and our future home–entails.

As I ventured through department stores last week, “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” echoed in my ears, and I began to sing and another part of me began to weep. You know the song, and I imagine that for many of you it has stirred some of the same emotions. Let’s sing it together:

I’ll be home for Christmas, you can count on me.
Please have snow and mistletoe and presents under the tree.

Christmas Eve will find me where the love-light gleams.
I’ll be home for Christmas, if only in my dreams.

Christmas Eve will find me where the love-light gleams.
I’ll be home for Christmas, if only in my dreams.

The line that always gets my attention in that song is “where the love-light gleams.” That’s really what home is, a place where the King of Love enters in and reminds us of the love he has shown us and the love we are to show to others.

Christmas and home are two terms that seem to go together. But what does home mean, and why does it become so poignant during the holidays? Some define home as a place; for others it is a feeling, for others an awareness that we have people to whom we belong.

We have all heard the phrase, “Home is where the heart is.” We hear “home” and “Christmas” and it generates a longing to be with those we love, or a longing for what we wished home could have been. It brings back memories both good and bad–it reminds us once again of those who are no longer home with us, and of places that are no longer considered home. Home and holidays often mean travel, high expectations, fanciful ideals, and sometimes hopes that don’t come true.

But what if we began to understand home from Christ’s perspective?

As I reflect on the desire to be home for the holidays, I am reminded of the journey that Mary and Joseph took to get to their own hometown. Luke writes, “And everyone went to their own hometown to register. So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David” (2:3-4, NIV, emphasis mine). Is that not what home really is–a place to belong?

When they arrived in Bethlehem, Mary and Joseph were in essence homeless, without a place to stay. Because of the hospitality of the innkeeper, a stable became a home to Mary, Joseph, baby Jesus, the shepherds, and of course the sheep. For in that place they found belonging, they found warmth, they found the miracle of life in the birth of a babe who left his heavenly home and dwelt among us.

As we create in our minds an image of home, perhaps it begins at the manger. It is the place that reminds us that it is not purely in the beauty of our surroundings where we find home, but in those places that bring forth new life, new hope, new promise, everlasting joy, and the awareness that the God of the universe crept in beside us and showed us love.

This Christmas as you are on your journey to the manger, my prayer is that you experience a journey that brings you closer to home and to the place where Christ lives, loves, and calls you his own. May the love-light gleam as you experience Christ’s radiance this season.

Reverend Kirsty DePree

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