* Arrival *
An Advent Reflection by Courtney Ellis
My parents always say they don’t sleep well unless all of their babies are under their roof. Never mind that their “babies” are all now in their 30s, as a parent myself I can absolutely understand this sentiment.
Many of us, most of us leave home. Some move to the house next door, others all the way around the world. Separated by walls and borders, miles and oceans, we long to be reunited with those we love, especially at the holidays.
When we moved to California five years ago, I made Daryl promise that we would travel back to the Midwest twice a year–once in the summer and once in the winter.
“I want our kids to know the geography of my childhood,” I told him. “They need to know their grandparents and great-grandparents and cousins and uncles and aunts.”
During our first years here, we dutifully made the trek biannually until we realized it was becoming impossible to sustain so much travel with littles. Each plane flight seemed to age us ten years, and though the time at home was abundantly joyful, the travel depleted us until we came back to the rigors of church life haggard instead of restored.
Blizzards and ice delayed and cancelled flights. The stomach bug hit more than once. Sub-zero temperatures locked wiggly kids indoors for days. Not to mention that five cross-country plane tickets cost as much as a decent used car.
Daryl and I sat down for one of those spousal meetings, both knowing the elephant in the room needed serious discussion.
“I think it needs to be once a year, Court,” he said. I began to cry.
“I know,” I said. “I know.”
We celebrate Christmas in California, now, and though there is serious relief in not having to pack a bunch of suitcases while also planning Christmas Eve services and genuine delight in celebrating the holiday with Daryl’s west coast family, something in me longs to arrive in the cocoon of home.
Perhaps you are far from loved ones this Christmas, celebrating in a foreign place or a strange land. Or maybe you are home but it’s different this year due to death or divorce, sickness or storm, and you don’t feel at home anymore.
It is here that the holy longing of Advent connects us with our wandering Savior. A teacher of the Law comes to Jesus promising to follow him, and Jesus responds with a difficult word:
Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” – Matthew 8:20
Whether you’re waiting for loved ones to arrive or you’ve arrived at your destination or all that’s arrived for you this year is a sense of uncertainty, Jesus is near to those who find themselves not-quite-at-home.
And he will make his home with us, and in us, among us and beside us, even as we long for the fulfillment of his promise. And we may make our home in him.
Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. – Revelation 21:3
Merry Christmas, dear friends.