Twenty years ago, when I was discerning my call to enter the ordained ministry, I had a conversation with my parents. The upshot of this was two fold, they were excited and very supportive, and secondly, my Mother said something like:“between now and your ordination, you WILL spend every Christmas with us!”
She was right of course, as a pastor, you get called to places that are often far from the rest of your family, and well, we tend to be sort of busy around those times when you want to gather as family. To top that off my lovely wife has a management position in retail. What you get here is a perfect storm for not being anywhere but your own house for Christmas or most other holidays.
This year we are taking off first thing on Christmas morning, to head to my parents home. Even if I have to get a fork lift to get my college aged kids out of bed we are leaving as early as we can so we will be able to spend the better part of two days with my family, and I am excited! Would I like to spend more time, you bet, but I am going to take what I get and say thank you!
Todays reading is from Ezra. This book focus’ on the return home for God’s people. They had been in exile for decades and what they returned to was not what they left. Today the temple is completed and dedicated just in time for Passover, were they excited? You better believe it! Did everything go perfectly? Did Uncle Morty talk to loud? Did cousin Sally critique the Passover lamb, Did brothers Sven an Ole argue about politics? All these scenarios and more likely played out, but there was still joy!
When we return home, even if home has changed, it is a time for joy. When God’s children repent, there is joy. When people who have distanced themselves from relationships and return, there is joy. This Christmas if you go to church even if you haven’t been there for a very long time, even if the pastor is different, even if they don’t sing your favorite Christmas Carol, it is a time for joy. During Christmas we celebrate the fact that God is with us in the gift of Jesus Christ, at home with us and for us, not just at Christmas, but everyday, and this is the source of our joy.