In the United States, Christmastime and thoughts of home just go together. “I’ll be Home for Christmas,” and “There’s No Place Like Home for the Holidays,” are two of the most popular holiday songs, year after year. Christmas movies and television shows regularly feature stories of people going to their family home or extended family home over the holidays. Among the rituals we create for this darkest time of the year in the Northern hemisphere, perhaps the majority of them are associated with either going home or doing special things at home-- whether lighting candles and having a time of family prayer during Advent, or decorating a Christmas tree, or caroling through a neighborhood, or hosting festive “open house” parties for friends, neighbors, and colleagues. It’s all about home.
Advent and Christmas Season are about another kind of homecoming, the homecoming of Christ to redeem and renew us, this earth, and all creation till “heaven and nature sing” with joy eternally. The Scriptures the church uses for Advent focus first on the final fulfillment, and later on the beginning of that fulfillment in Jesus. As they seek God’s joyous desire, they also make plain just how far from it we have been and challenge us with just how far we have to go, ourselves, to begin to live into it.