Advent prepares us for Jesus’ return by inviting us to come to the manger. He reigns from a throne normally designed as a feeding trough for sheep. Our Good Shepherd comes as a humble servant delivered into this world by a poor family from Nazareth. They leave the security of their house to follow God’s call. In so doing, we receive the blessing of Christmas. As G.K. Chesterton once wrote, “the place where God was homeless, and all men are at home.” This year, I’m inviting you to come home for Christmas.
The last time I was in Bethlehem, our guide took us to two places in the traditional site of Jesus’ birth. One is the part of the cave that the church has decorated to commemorate the event. The other part of the cave is a place that looks like a real cave. Simple, peaceful, cold. If they had not provided lights, the place would be dark, damp, and miserable. I imagine this to be like a place where the Son of God would be born.
This place below ground is a gathering point for family, strangers, and worshipers to find what our hearts long for—a strong home for Christmas. This kind of home is not marked by the roof over your head or the dimensions of your television screen. It can’t be described as an apartment or a duplex. This home is made of people fully surrendered to Jesus as Lord.
To get there, we must convert to God’s way. Luke tells us that to prepare for the Lord, our hearts will turn to parents, children, and wisdom. As Mary and Elizabeth found, we might have to leave the routines of home life during this Christmas season temporarily in order to follow God’s will. Our neighbors will be disrupted by the movement of God’s grace around us. In the end, as a new day dawns on the horizon, we will see God’s sunrise of mercy liberating us again from the bondage of sin. We too won’t want to miss what God delivers to our world.
Our church has planned a number of worship services, programs, and celebrations for you to be a part of. You’ll find many of these listed Online and in our publications. Mark your calendars, and prepare to come to the manger. For here you will find a place and a people who will lead you to your heart’s true home. By kneeling at the manger with the shepherds, Mary, and Joseph, we come home for Christmas.