When I was a kid, I never really got the song, I’ll be home for Christmas, until my sister moved away from home to go to school. I remember listening to the song, and thinking about her.
I remember relishing the times when my family could get together. It felt as in some small way that I belonged to something bigger than me. There was a sense in those moments when we were together that I was at “home”.
The last number of years, I’ve been apart from my family over the holidays more than I’ve been together with them. For the most part it has been okay as we’ve called each other no matter where we are. I still relish those times when we can get together whether at Christmas or at other times and look forward to that sense of coming home.
Before meeting my husband, I pieced together my own traditions that often included strangers taking me in as part of their family. I have many memories from those days that I cherish mostly because in those moments, I’ve also had the sense of being home.
Homecoming can be about being with family but it is also about something much more than that. It is about connecting on a deeper level to one another and to something outside of oneself. It’s about recognizing ourselves as human beings and realizing that we all stand together in this one thing, we are created and imagined into being by a loving God who can’t help but draw us into the home of God’s heart.
It is about finding a resting place, a place where all of who you are is known and you are loved anyway. Homecoming is about settling into feeling, an emotion, a relationship and recognizing that this is where you truly belong and you’ve had to do nothing to earn it or receive it.
Homecoming is pure gift and it is found in the babe in the manger who gave up all of who he was to help us find our way home.
Most of my life, I’ve found that feeling of belonging to be difficult; not so much because of the people around me, although I did blame them for a long time, but because of who I was and the restlessness that is a part of who I am.
As I’ve aged, I’ve begun to recognize that belonging is not so much of a place but of a moment where you recognize that you belong to something much bigger than who you are or who your family is or who your friends are. It is in that moment that one finds God entering in and becoming one with our humanity and creating a home with us.
As I look forward to spending time together with my family this Christmas, I recognize that not everyone is so fortunate. As I look forward to family traditions that have become more and more meaningful over the years, I think of those who may not experience that sense of homecoming with either the families of their birth or in the families forged through a shared life together and I pray.
I pray that that the light of Christ’s gift that came so many years ago to a stable will come to the hearts of those who need to find their own homecoming in the heart of God.