(from the heart of Lori Orander)
Christmas – the reminder of home. Advent – the invitation to return. Every heart feels it, considers it, weighs the risks, maybe runs from it. But longs for it. Every heart longs to come home at Christmas.
Home, in it’s oldest memory – like on the Christmas card – with family and friends and faithful fathers, fullness and fun & warming fires in the hearth, bringing contentment in the sighing, laughter in the heart. Home- where everybody knows your name, and they’re always glad you came; where they not only know your name, but your nickname and your surname and every name you’ve been called . . . and love you still. Where everybody knows everybody, and our troubles are all the same, whatever your name, and where you can’t hide anything ‘cause it’s already known. So you rest from trying, cause keeping up pretense is absurd and laughter comes easy, cause you’re free to just be. For you are home, and you are known, and you are loved and accepted anyway – in every way.
How the heart longs to come home like that. But home can become elusive, for everyone – every heart – has turned away to his or her own way, and lost the way; the way home. And so the heart longs, but tires of longing, of searching, of trying; and eventually begins to believe that it cannot go home. So it stops longing, stops beating for home, and settles into a lifeless rhythm, still as a stone.
But Home is not content being empty of you, built – as it were- to contain you and your heart. So Home came looking for you, leaving the highest home to bring you home, to bring home to you by making you His home. And the first Christmas was the invasion of Home and the Way home to a lost and longing world. And the heart and womb of a girl became the first of human homes for Him, our Home, to dwell.
And now – there is a knocking. And there is a peeking through the door to see the gift of Christmas wanting to come in and make His home in you. And there’s a decision – one to be made- to open the door of a heart grown cold, where hope had grown old- to risk again that home could be possible; to be known completely & loved just the same by the one who knows your name and your frame and your heart and your longings.
And you begin to hope. And courage comes to risk again with the only One who can actually come in and bring Home to you. And He enters, as He entered that first Christmas night, invading your humanity by becoming humanity. And you open your heart, the smallest crack, and the Light rushes in, and the warm breath of His Spirit blows on the embers of the fire in your heart till there is a catch, and life, and your heart awakens to find that Home has come to dwell. And the light reveals that you are known and the warmth reveals that you are loved – and that you are no longer alone; for you are where you’ve always longed to be-as a child come home to Family and a faithful Father who doesn’t just meet you at the door but comes running down your prodigal road, with a ring & a robe*, to say, “ Come Home!” For Home is waiting, and Home is yours, and you belong.
And the Carolers sing, “I’ll be home for Christmas…”, and you smile, for it is true. Because Home has come to make His Home – to dwell forever – in you.
“I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. . . On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you; . . .Anyone who loves me will be loved by My Father, . . . and we will come to them and make our home with them.” John 14:18, 23
(*listen to Jonathan and Melissa Helser’s song, “Abba (Arms of a Father)”)