Every time I turn on the Pandora Christmas-music-station, I hear someone crooning, "I'll be home for Christmas..." It's such a sad, nostalgic Christmas song, made more so by the fact that not everyone I love can be home for Christmas. During the holidays, I miss my grown-up-kids the most. Don't get me wrong, I love that they are able to create their own family traditions (those are IMPORTANT!). I am thrilled to think of them with their kiddos, carrying on some of the same ones that we instilled: attending the Christmas Eve service, gathering at home afterwards drinking some of Aunt Kim's Egg Nog (her special, yes, non-alcoholic, recipe is the BEST), reading the Christmas story, tearing open a few presents before bed, saving Christmas stockings & a surprise gift for morning... What I miss is the magic that family makes by being together. So, we've learned to make that magic happen whenever we can...and, I'm glad that my kiddos work at finding the few times we can all gather under one roof.
However, this Advent Season, more than ever, I have been thinking more about just where "home" is. On Saturday, we received word that a dear, spiritually-influential friend of ours has really gone "home" for Christmas. This Christmas, he will spend with Jesus. I can't think of a better time to be home. I can only imagine the reunion and the celebration! This man left a HUGE legacy. Not just in his immediate family, but in his church family, and community. The fact is, I wouldn't be sitting here typing a blog entry about Advent were it not for him. Cecil bought into the vision of five high school kids, who wanted to make a difference for Jesus in their school. So, he gave them land near his home, bought them materials, and helped them build a little building where they could invite other students for Bible studies, prayer times, and parties. I got invited one October night to a fall party, and a few short weeks later, my life was totally transformed, when Jesus was born in my heart in a BIG WAY. I'm so glad he's home for this holy-day season!
For Jesus-followers, that haunting we feel at Christmas-time, that longing for home, for family, is simply a poignant reminder that none of us are HOME. We'll never really have that hole in our hearts filled until we reach heaven's gates. Oh, we may sense the magic for a few brief days, when family can gather together, but it's simply a foretaste of what we really are seeking - being at home in the presence of our Savior. We will never be fully satisfied until we are home with Jesus. The Jesus-disciple, Peter, got that fact - he looked beyond earth to that place about which his Lord taught. As Jesus explained the fact of His coming death to His disciples, He used these words: "In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also (John 14: 2-3, ESV)." So, Peter reminds us, "Friends, this world isn't your home, so don't make ourselves cozy in it...(1 Peter 2:11, MSG)"
Advent is more than just a current season of approximately 25-30 days. Advent is ahead. Jesus is currently preparing for another Christmas. A Christmas when all the family who are in-Christ will be together celebrating in His Father's mansion. I look forward with anticipation to that day. So much so, that I don't want to be "cozy" here. And, just as my adult-kids work hard to make together-times happen, I will do my part to work at making an eternal gathering with those I love possible. Think of the magic of that time! Advent is near!
Today's Advent Lesson: One day, those of us in-Christ will all be home for Christmas. Let's prepare for that Advent by sending out Kingdom invitations. What a day that will be!