December 14, 2016

Over the river and through the woods, the holiday rush is on. In the midst of shopping-mall crowds, jam-packed airports and bumper-to-bumper traffic, many look forward to one thing: going home for Christmas.

The song "I'll Be Home for Christmas" was first made popular by crooner Bing Crosby and released in 1943 during the height of World War II. It captured the longing heart of the soldier to be beyond the fray, back home, warm, and safe from harm or danger.

This is not a new phenomenon. It springs from a seed planted at the beginning of humankind. Adam and Eve felt this urgency of togetherness as the Creator eagerly sought them out to walk together throughout the garden in the cool of the evening. And when sin pierced that perfect picture, it not only brought death and disease but suspicion and separation.

Left to themselves, the children of the garden would have drifted from all memory of the place where trust is treasured and relationships rejoice. But deep in the heart of heaven, the divine Shepherd initiated a plan to seek out His wandering sheep. In the fullness of time, Immanuel stepped over the edge of space and became God with us. He took the initiative, paid the price and began the godly work of restoring the connection between heaven and earth.

His divine intervention renews the divine spark that first placed the concept of "home" in our consciousness. What sin has displaced, heaven has replaced. Our commemoration of the incarnation can never be summed up in a pretty picture or cute concept. Like the eternal paradigm shift of Easter, it is an anchor point, an "Ebenezer" spot in each year that reminds us of our Father's initiative and His love.

This vertical reminder also has a horizontal mandate, especially in the midst of our country's political morass. Where disagreements or discord have damaged, where difficulties or disease have distracted, we can take the initiative in restoring disconnected relationships. No one truly feels at home unless peace on earth and goodwill moves beyond the catchy card or carol into the very fabric of life.

Yet home is more than what we can ever presently experience. Its meaning is more than that woven into a Bing Crosby melody. Engrained in our DNA is a vestige of truth that this world is not our home. This truth is what draws us to the central message of our faith. The Creator God came to bring us the keys to His home, so that where He is, there we may be always — finally home forever.

Merry Christmas!