1714) Home for Christmas (part two of two)

 Image result for home for christmas images

    (…continued)  It is interesting that Jesus, born to show all the world the way home, was not even born at home.  He was not born in a house at all, but in a stable, in a strange town, a long way from Joseph’s current home.  Then, because of the threat of Herod, God told Joseph to go to Egypt to protect the life of Jesus.  Only after two years there did the young family return home to Nazareth.  

     It appears that for a time Jesus had no home in his adult life either.  In Matthew 8:20 Jesus said to the crowd, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”  But even such homelessness for the Son of God showed that he had another home in mind.

      So going home for Christmas is a most appropriate way to celebrate this time of year; home, that place of security and love we all desire.  There is much truth in the old cliché, “There’s no place like home.”

     But we do need to be realistic about these things.  Home is where the heart is, yes, but in this sinful world, home is also where a lot of other things are.  It’s where husband and wife can get into a bitter argument about some stupid little thing and end up saying things that should never be said.  Home is the place where a rebellious teenager can set everyone on edge and turn the whole place into a battleground for five years.  Home is the place where quarreling children can slowly drain a tired mother of her remaining energy and sanity.  Home is where insensitive and cruel parents can put their children through a daily nightmare for years.  Home is a place where all understanding can break down between in-laws, resulting in cold shoulders and tense visits (or no visits at all).  Home is fertile ground for producing guilt, and some are skilled at keeping that guilt alive for years.  Home is where old people, set in their ways, can irritate each other endlessly with their unbending stubbornness.  Home is where we are best known and therefore most capable of hurting and being hurt.  Home is where past wrongs can be forever remembered and all too often reviewed.

    We can’t get too sentimental about such a thing as “home.”  We know too well what can all go on there.  Some homes are, of course, happier than others.  But even the most perfect homes are, in the end, shattered by death.  We make our homes, yes, but it is always with a mixture of love and anxiety.  Every home is under the constant attack by those three enemies listed in the catechism, sin, death, and the power of the devil.  Life lived under those conditions always cries out for more: more love, joy, peace, contentment, harmony, and more time.  Jesus was born to bring us to a more perfect home, a home restored to all the goodness that was intended from the beginning; a home of love without anxiety, joy without frustration, harmony without discord, and gratitude without resentment.  It will be a home where all old wounds will be healed and all misunderstandings will cease.

     In this world of sin and death, our homes are never what they could or should be.  Our best attempts at love and care always fall short.  But imperfect as it is here, we know what it should be like, and we keep trying to get it.  Some keep muddling along, hoping that things will get better, and that’s often the best we can do.  Others leave one home after another, pursuing that elusive, impossible dream, while leaving a trail of broken hearts behind.  And others, it seems, have it made, a wonderful home; but even they know their near-perfect home can be ended at any time by death.  

      But God has promises for us of a home beyond all imagination.  While calling us to responsible living in our homes now, God reminds us of that home to come where we will find that perfect peace we seek.  Jesus came to show us the way there.

     In the last verse of “O Little Town of Bethlehem” we sing:

Yet in the dark street shineth

The everlasting light.

The hopes and fears of all the years

Are met in thee tonight.

     “The hopes and fears of all the years.”  That one line covers a lot of ground.  Think of your own life— the hopes you have of things that will work out, get better, blow over, or whatever; and the fears for troubled loved ones, fears of an uncertain future, fears of a certain death.  Your hopes and fears cover a good share of what you think about in a day.  The verse speaks of the hopes and fears of all the years, of all the people who ever lived, of all the homes there ever were.  Those hopes and fears are all met “in Thee tonight.”  Jesus, the everlasting light, comes to show us the way home to that place where our deepest hopes are fulfilled, where our most frightening fears are relieved.  In his life and ministry, Jesus also shows us the way life is best lived right now, the way of forgiveness and love and contentment, that can begin to lift our homes out of their bondage to sin and into God’s light.  “The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.”  What a great way to describe the meaning of Christ’s birth at Christmas.

     It is a great tradition that brings families home for Christmas.  It is the ultimate gift of Christmas that God himself becomes a person, like us, to draw us into His home.  Let that promise of God’s love and care and guidance calm your fearful heart as you view your earthly home with mixed emotions.  See in that Christmas gift from God the way to that home.