|photo by Fleur-Ange Lamothe / Flickr|
It’s Advent time. Early the Church set aside four Sundays to get us ready for the birth of Jesus. They realized it took some time and preparation for us in our crowded calendars to understand the mystery of mysteries. God coming to us in flesh.
This Advent I’m going to focus on homecoming. I keep remembering the Prodigal story. The boy who lost everything and wondered in his misery if he might go home. Thomas Mann said of great literature: “It is..it is...however much we say it was.” So the Prodigal is everybody’s story. We all wander far away from what we intended back there. Somewhere along the way most of us got lost. And, like the Prodigal we long to go home.
The old man in the nursing home tugged at my sleeve, “Take me home...I want to go home.” It is a universal longing. In our dreams we keep going back. To that place where it all started. Even now you can probably remember what was in every room. Where your bed was. Where you kept your clothes. How the kitchen looked. You can describe, even after all these years, that special place.
Frederick, Buechner has said that: “I believe that what we long for most in the home we knew is the peace and charity that, if we were lucky, we first came to experience there, and I believe that it is that same peace and charity we dream of finding once again in the home that the tide of time draws us toward.”
Spend some time thinking of that tiny place most of the world never knew existed back there. A manger and a star and a mother and father and at the center of it all the one who makes it all possible.
I don’t think this is just wishful thinking, putting our heads in the sand and ignoring the convulsions of our time. Ferguson. All those frightened immigrants. The grief that seems to be everywhere. The pushing, shoving and desperation of shoppers this season. The soldier in Iraq. The family in their shell of a house in Afghanistan. And up and down the streets where we live—there is a whole lot of pain.
It was that kind of a world that Jesus first came into. And those Shepherds that traveled from afar...found at the end of their journey more than they ever dreamed. And maybe, just maybe this Christmas we, like the boy in the story or the scruffy shepherds, might arise and shake away the clutter of all our too-muchness and go to our Father. The Prodigal dreamed of a homecoming. And so do we all.
|photo from St.James Church / / flickr|
Prayer for the First Sunday in Advent
"O God, thou who art 'untamed and perilous,' who dost 'deal in every form of danger, and many modes of death', strip us of our pretensions and vanities; expose to the strong his weakness, and to the wise his folly but set in our hearts an unconquerable hope, and in thine own way fulfill it. Through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen." --Paul Scherer