– Andy Wade –
Where’s home? Our theme for this Advent is “Coming Home: Uncovering Our Roots in the Advent Story”, but what if you don’t know where home is? I was thinking about a family friend who recently wandered off from home. She has Alzheimers and, for whatever reason, decided to take a walk by herself. Unable to find her way home, she spent the night outside, cold, alone, afraid.
Search teams went door to door that night looking for her. They searched all night along the many local trails and paths until she was finally found the following morning. Fortunately it was summer and the nights were not too cool.
I’ve been thinking about this incident as I’ve reflected on our theme.
Christine speaks of three “comings” in Advent:
- Jesus’ first coming over 2000 years ago
- Jesus’ coming to us today as Emmanuel, God with us, and
- Jesus’ coming again, our anticipation of his return when all things will be made whole.
But here again I wondered, “What if we don’t know where ‘home’ is?”
Advent reminds us clearly of all three of these homecomings, but often we get distracted, disoriented, disconnected. In fact, it’s easy to focus solely on Jesus’ coming as a baby in a manger at Christmas and forget his very real presence with us today… and the future coming we ache for. Like my family friend, we end up wandering trails that seem familiar and yet, try as we might, we can’t seem to find home.
On a personal level, I’m challenged to ask myself:
- Which coming makes me most uncomfortable? Why?
- Which coming do I find most difficult to live into, to express in action and/or to share with others? Why?
These are all very important questions as they challenge me to explore my own assumptions about who Jesus is and why I choose to follow. They also expose my own prejudices about Jesus and might just cause me to re-read the “Christmas Story” with new eyes.
Coming home also has another side
As my friend huddled in the cool night air, she was not really alone. The whole community had mobilized to find her. And this is the other side of the Christmas Story: God became flesh to seek us out, and then called us to embody this love for others. Homecoming assumes community, and the community of Jesus is one that, compelled by love and grace, is ever-expanding:
Scripture reassures us, “No one who trusts God like this—heart and soul—will ever regret it.” It’s exactly the same no matter what a person’s religious background may be: the same God for all of us, acting in the same incredibly generous way to everyone who calls out for help. “Everyone who calls, ‘Help, God!’ gets help.” (Rom. 10:11-13 – Message)
But how can people call for help if they don’t know who to trust? And how can they know who to trust if they haven’t heard of the One who can be trusted? And how can they hear if nobody tells them? And how is anyone going to tell them, unless someone is sent to do it? That’s why Scripture exclaims, A sight to take your breath away! Grand processions of people telling all the good things of God! Romans 10:11-15 (The Message)
So as I consider what it means to come home this Advent season, to “rediscover my roots in the Advent story”, I’m reminded that those roots grow both deep and wide. In fact, I discover that I really cannot come home, not as Jesus calls me to, unless I’m traveling that path home with others, as sojourners both to, and with, Christ.
What do I long for as I “Come Home” through the Advent story?
- I long to come home to a God who loves me, loves us, love the whole creation, so much that God would lay it all aside, become Emmanuel, and embrace us where we are, as we are.
- I long to come home to a God who does not abandon us, but is Emmanuel right here, right now, and calls us, as God’s holy community, to become emmanuel to our neighbors.
- And I long to come home to God’s future; all things reconciled to Christ (Col. 1:19-20), made whole, at peace, cradled in the grace and love of God.
How about you?