Coming home for Christmas is a common theme of movies and music this time of year. Most of us know the song “I’ll be home for Christmas,” originally written to honor soldiers overseas who longed to be home at Christmastime, which is now a standard of the season.
Some of us know of the movies by that title
the one where a college student faces an impossible journey when he is left stranded in the desert thousands of miles from home, with no money and only a few days left until Christmas.
Or the one that Hallmark aired for the first time last year, dealing with an Assistant District Attorney and single mom, whose estranged dad, a gruff retired police officer shows up at her door unexpectedly forcing them to confront old wounds.
Some of us are having conversations as to who in our families will be home for Christmas and who will not. Some of us long to be home, others long to be anywhere else because of situations in our lives. Some of us are not sure where home is.
The phrase “Home for Christmas” can bring us warm, comforting feelings, and it can push us to confront situations we would rather ignore.
This morning’s scripture lessons are comforting and disruptive all at the same time. The Isaiah passage depicts all the powerful ways God breaks into our world, showing us majesty, power and direction. The Mark passage encourages us to watch for the ways God is with us in past, present, and future. Again, lifting a God who meets us where we are in our common experiences, in ways that are really beyond our ability to comprehend.
God comes down to our home in ways we can understand if we are looking for them and provides a path for us to come to God’s home. We need to stick the tasks Gods set before us, all the while watching and waiting for glimpses of where God is working for and through those who are alert to God’s presence.
Advent is a time of preparation. We are cleaning and decorating our homes, shopping for family meals and presents, for some a very long list.
For many children it is a time of watching for the Elf on the shelf and the ways they can stay on the “Nice” list. For some adults it is a time to look at the Isaiah passage and see where some redirection is needed, what areas of our lives we need to give over to the potter to reshape. These are all appropriate directions to take during this special season of our faith.
There is a direction, a focus, that I suggest is even a more important part of this season of preparation. It is becoming more in tune to seeing the places God is breaking into our world, living among us, leading us, caring for us. It is difficult to see Jesus in the manager as “God with us” if we cannot see God with us in those around us.
It is a time which offers us an opportunity to consider how Christ is leading us, to realign our lives with the purposes and challenges of living in God’s kingdom here and now. To remind us that it is God’s intention to meet us where we are, to fill us with joy, and to do everything possible here and now through us to make this world more closely approximate what God is longing for it to become. We are called to live always as those who are ready, who are fully prepared for God’s kingdom to come, and for God’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven, whenever and wherever that occurs.
Here is a Christmas commercial that is currently running. Several of my Facebook friends posted it this week and it seemed to fit with a theme of expecting God to break into our daily lives in unexpected and amazing ways. Let’s watch.
So many twists and turns in this story of lost and found. A dog is found and returned to its owners. A lonely man finds a friend, willingly gives the friend back to those who love this new friend, and then is welcomed into a new family. All have found their way home, even if they didn’t know they were looking.
Advent isn’t just about waiting for the baby in the manger. It’s about expecting Christ here, in our own messed-up lives, right now. It is about recognizing that we don’t need the perfect house, the most expensive gift, or a magazine worthy dinner. It is about knowing deep within our souls that we don’t need to have it all together, that we can be imperfect, flawed, fragile. God will meet, love, and redeem us regardless of our condition and will use us to reflect His love for all people to those with whom we come in contact.
I expect the last few weeks have given you opportunities to see God break into your world. Answers to prayers, healing, people stepping up to help people, transitions that seemed hard at first and which ultimately proved to be just the right thing at the right time. All of you have experienced Christ breaking through time and space to be present in your life and the lives of others, I hope all of you have been awake and alert to know it was happening.
I hope you will have opportunities to invite others to see where God is breaking into their worlds through your actions and when necessary, your words.
In the midst of knowing that we are changed when God comes down home, when God breaks into our now, we have the assurance that God comes in love. May we be alert for the unexpected places and ways it happens throughout this Advent season.