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Monday, January 02, 2012

Home for the Holidays

Dear Ones,

When we travel "home for the holidays," we do so for lots of reasons.  When we choose not to go home or there is no longer a home to go to at the holidays, that has great meaning in our lives too.

Do you remember your Genesis stories?  In Genesis chapter 3, "therefore the Lord God sent [Adam and Eve] forth from the garden of Eden."  We, represented in the story by Adam and Eve, are sent away from home at the beginning of the Bible epic.  It is a stunning scene.  Yet, when I read this text, God doesn't seem all that angry.  I think God is disappointed – even heart-broken – that the acts of these people have the consequence that they must leave the home God prepared for them.  They have to leave because of what they did.

Later in Genesis, chapter 12, God speaks to Abram.  God promises that Abram is going to be the start of something wonderful, in "the land that I will show you."  God's promise is that Abram (Abraham) will come home.  This is God's idea!  Nothing that Abraham has done so far in the story triggers this promise.  Abraham and Sarah move on in their grand adventure because God initiated the adventure.

God understands that coming home is not a return.  Coming home is more than the fulfillment of a nostalgic hope for a lost time when things were simpler, warmer, more welcoming.  God's idea of coming home is that we answer a call to a new place, a changed reality, in which we will be surprised to discover that we fit in ways we had not fully imagined.  Beloved, here is what we discover when we have come home: that our spiritual and other gifts are newly valued, that giving up our former trajectory through life is the most liberating thing we've ever done.  And in our God is Still Speaking theology, we understand that we can turn toward God's invitation to come home again and again.

That is what change is about.  That is what our inventive God is up to in our lives, yours and mine.  That is how you can calm down in the face of new family combinations, new friendships, and new rituals.  That is how you can be the person you are right now, in 2012, not merely a shadow of who you were back in the day.

How might you claim this understanding at Christmastime?

In the Christmas story, what happens?  A baby is born, that's all.  

Oh wait.  That's not all.

In this story, God takes an action.  God comes to us "in the flesh," in the presence of a baby.  God demonstrates that God is with us.

God is saying to us, "Where you are at home, there I am at home with you."

May you find your moments of home in closeness to God who longs to be so close to you that you feel right at home.

Peace and Blessing and Merry Christmas!
Pastor Brad