Homesick

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The Oregon winter is truly something to behold. Magic at play in the forest, freshly-washed and shrouded in fog, each branch cloaked and dripping bright green. A cloudy day parts to reveal the majestic face of the mountain reflecting the last few rays of the day off her snowcap.

I take far less pictures. They don’t even come close.

Some days the difference is so striking. Others, it feels like we’ve just swapped houses.

The status quo a car ride, traveling smoothly. My eye catches a street sign: Ely Street. Little reminders of home coming as small, unexpected blows.

Being away isn’t much trouble at all. Not unless you think about how far, how seemingly impossible home has become.

“But I left home too,” the Voice whispers, “For you, for them, for love.” 

And in this forest world so alien to me, this tide of homesickness binds me to my Savior. And though I may not fully count it joy, I refuse to settle for mere existence.

There’s far more to life for us. We’re citizens of high heaven! We’re waiting the arrival of the Savior” (Philippians 3:20, MSG).

Again, our weary world waits. Pangs of longing thrum deep within the heart of the earth. Advent then, advent now.

Here in this homesick, rain-soaked place, I live, I love, I wait.

Christmas

Just two weeks left until Christmas. Race and rush and wrap and stuff.

So many people chime in with what Christmas is about. I’m positively drowning in the cacophony of what Christmas is and what Christmas isn’t. What we should and why we mustn’t tied with a bow, pleasing all, offending none.

Christmas is about Jesus. But what about those who do not know Him?

Christmas is about family. But what about the orphaned and the abandoned, the slave, the refugee?

Christmas is about giving. But what about those with nothing left?

Christmas is about joy. But what about the grieving among us?

Christmas is about cooking and baking and eating. But what about those who are not invited to the table?

 

This will be our first Christmas away from our families. No big celebrations, no large meals, just the four of us. And in this pared down simplicity, Christmas will still come. Because Christmas is more than a date on a calendar, a winter break. Christmas cannot be contained in the largest gathering or drowned out in a tide of grief.

Christmas is about redemption. Ever, always, and only. 

For those whose homes are filled with family and friends, joy and laughter ringing in the halls, Christmas is about redemption. May we never forget our need for a redeemer. 

For those who cry alone in the dark, “This can’t be all there is,” Christmas is about redemption. May we seek out the margins and shine, for darkness cannot survive the light.

For those outside, simply waiting for an invitation, Christmas is about redemption. May we open wide the door in welcome, remembering we too were once outsiders. 

Redemption is messy work. There are no guarantees of safety. There is no return on investment. There is always a price to be paid. After all, what is the cost of a life? Of our own humanity?

And into this chaos, this raging cacophony of knowledge and noise, Christmas will indeed come, quietly, seemingly unnoticed, under a star-sprinkled sky.

May we remember to go outside and simply look up.