When I was a little girl, there were many Christmases when my family would travel to the small towns in northeast Mississippi where both of my parents grew up.
This story is meaningful to me because of what happened at the end...when we arrived home, and my Grandmother stood holding the storm door open for us at the top of steps that overlooked the carport...it was indescribable, the feeling I had when we arrived there...and it's a feeling that I believe all of us long for. I can remember as if it was yesterday...the exhilaration I felt as our car circled the last bend and began up the hill to my grandparents' house...the porch light was on, and seeing it in the distance, I could hardly wait for the sound of our car tires hitting the gravel driveway...we were home. The trip was long and tiring, but we were home, and all was hugs and happiness then...the smell of homecooked food wafting from the kitchen...the sounds of laughter and the excited chatter of a joyful reunion...
The scripture readings today talk about a light coming to people who are in darkness, and of God's desire to bring salvation to all of mankind...and I can't help but think of how God must long for his children to finally arrive home....he stands, as my Grandmother always did, in the doorway...waiting for us to finally arrive. Happiness and hugs are there, and a great feast for all the family...a joyful reunion for all who come.
This Christmas season, I don't know whether you have a joyful homecoming to anticipate, or whether hugs and happiness await you during the holiday season...but I know that God wants to welcome you home, and has prepared a place especially for you. I've said this before, but I'll keep saying it because I believe it is so very important...God's endgame for you is joy and love, and a safe place to come home. It is why he became a man and lived here among us...and it is why we celebrate Christmas in the church.
Whatever this week before Christmas includes for you...whether it's travel, or cooking...shopping or church...I hope your week will hold the special promise of going home for the holidays. I hope it will include hugs and happiness, and the joyful chatter of happy reunions...and I hope you'll take a moment to savor the holiday, and the foretaste of the homecoming that God has prepared for each of us.