Friday, November 26, 2010

Come Home For Christmas

Come home. These two words are filled with wonderful meaning. They are an invitation. The word "home," for most of us, has warmth, welcome, and is rich with memories. Home can mean a home town. Mine is Oil City, PA, and while this little town has fallen on hard times, economically, and is a shadow of its former self, it is still "home" for me. When I go back to Oil City, I get to rehearse the stories of my childhood and the fits and foibles of high school life. I remember how eager I was to get away from there when I went off to college, but how great it was to come home over the holidays.

Home may mean the house in which you grew up, whether it is there anymore or not. Maybe you remember climbing the stairs to go off to bed on Christmas Eve so "Old Saint Nick" could make a visit? Or maybe you remember playing in the old neighborhood with those childhood "best friends"? Perhaps your parents or some of your family still live there. Homecoming takes on even greater meaning when this is so, for they, too, remember your stories and will sit with you for hours as you retell them together.

"Coming home" may mean what Jesus talked about in the parable we call "The Prodigal Son," when the younger son, who squandered his inheritance and wound up poor, homeless, and rejected, "came to himself" and humbly returned to his family--especially to his loving father. I love it when people "come home" in this way--when people return to a healthier, more "normal" time in life, leaving behind addictions, getting help with depression, and often turning to their "Higher Power" for healing. As a pastor, I pray daily for this kind of "homecoming" for the world. How much more wonderful life would be for everyone if inner healing and spiritual awakening would become widespread and people could discover "abundant living" rather than just "surviving."

As the Christmas season approaches, I pray for all of us to have a "homecoming" of whatever kind we need to restore and renew our lives. Christmas is an opportune time to renew broken relationships--with people and/or with God--and to reconcile with loved ones. Christmas is a perfect time to rediscover God's love for you as demonstrated by his Son, Jesus Christ. Why not "Come Home for Christmas" this year? If you have been out of the habit of attending church, plan to go to Christmas Eve worship at your "home" church or one near you. Take your family or a friend along. It could be the greatest Christmas present you have ever had!

The night Jesus was born, the angels spoke of "Peace on Earth, Goodwill toward all people." That continues to be my prayer for planet earth, for me and my loved ones, and for you, even the "yous" I don't personally know. Merry Christmas, friends, and Shalom to all.

Dr. Jeff

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