Last Christmas, after preaching on Christmas Eve, I jumped in the car for home. Only this year home wasn’t fifteen minutes away, but 800 miles. I was headed to my childhood home for Christmas. Emily and Bennett had already flown to Maryland earlier in the week, so I was to make the twelve-hour drive alone throughout the night in order to be there for the Christmas morning festivities.
Those endless hours gave me a lot of time to reflect. Besides thinking about which coffee pick-me-up I would purchase at the next gas station and that I will never drive twelve-hours alone through the night ever again, one phrase kept returning to my mind…. “There’s no place like home.”
I get sentimental around the holidays. I remember the joy of waking up to presents underneath the tree, the smell of cinnamon rolls, the laughter around the table, warm fires filling up the air, and sitting on my grandparents' laps who have long since gone. At Christmas time, there’s no place like home. And so I'm willing to pay an exorbitant amount of money on an airplane ticket or plow through the night to be home.
Of course, what gets lost in all this emotion is the reality of home. For some of us, there’s a reason we left home. Others of us, we experienced none of this sappiness except for what we’ve witnessed on all those Hallmark movies. Most of us have simply forgotten the complexities of home.
So often you and I fail to remember we don’t actually get along with our siblings. We ignore the wound our father inflicted years ago. We omit our stepmom isn’t the nice gal she first was when she met our dad. And then there’s the family drunk. Add in our uncle’s new wife and a family member you haven’t seen for decades, and you’re getting close to what most families actually look like. Give or take a character or two, that’s mine. Finally, of course, we neglect looking in the mirror at the failures and mistakes we’ve made along the way to make this going home thing difficult.
All that is to say this — that feeling deep down in your soul…. there’s no place like home…. it’s true. It’s true. Despite the realities of most families, there is no place like home. We know it in our bones. And we often spend our lives looking for it.
Just understand this - that home you long for…. that home you wish you had…. a place where you feel you belong and that in some sense belongs to you…. a place where you feel that all is somehow ultimately well even if things aren’t going all that well at all…. that place…. that home…. is found near a manger in Bethlehem.
So wherever you go this Christmas…. make sure you’re headed there.
Because there, you’ll feel right at home.