This first Monday after Thanksgiving was a snow day for schools in Chicagoland. There are few things as happy as waking up in the morning to the news that all your responsibilities and homework have been wiped out for the day. It’s as if the whole Creation exhales in a big sigh of relief.
Ironically, the rest of December will be quite un-snow-day-ish for both students and working adults of all ages! Although most plants and animals start to hunker down this time of year, we humans tend to work overtime and schedule exams. No wonder we often feel stressed as the holidays approach.
There are good things to look forward to, however. After the exams are taken and the year-end numbers are inevitably crunched, we get a Christmas Break! A season of rest is coming for us! For many of us, this also means coming home for Christmas — which can be a whole different sort of stress than that brought on by academic and business deadlines.
In a novel I read recently, a middle-aged man arrives home after a long business trip.
His children had made a large banner to hang up on the garage door that read:
“Welcome Hone.” This is not a typo. His kids spelled “Home” with an “n” by mistake.
This slight misspelling is symbolic of a deeper reality: no matter how good your home and family are, when you gather at a “home” for the holidays, something will surely be slightly off. The more mature and older you get, the more aware you become of the things that are amiss in life.
But don’t let this truth discourage you, please! Instead, my encouragement to you is to embrace your home, your family, and your people for what they are: Good but flawed. They are your “hone.” Part of your calling for the Christmas season is to be aware that your people are not 100% perfect, but you can still be 100% thankful for the good things that God brings you through them. The same holds true for your school or your work. And your church! The same even holds true for yourself.
Jesus understood this about us. Our flaws and sins were what motivated his journey from heaven to earth. Jesus’ desire to bring us home to God (proper spelling!) is the reason behind the Incarnation and the reason why celebrate Christmas.
Psalm 23 ends with some beautiful phrases about God “preparing a table for us” and the possibility that we “will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” God’s final goal is to gather us around a heavenly family table where the joy, good company, and love will never end. I pray you get some glimpses of that heavenly table through the lens of holiday gatherings and worship services in the coming weeks. We can be grateful that our “hone” is pointing us toward home!
God’s Blessings to you!
- Pastor Gregg