Normally, I write my reflections on the day they are to be delivered, i.e., today. I knew that would be a challenge so this was prepared weeks ago, before I left for Alaska. I found and find myself reflecting on the journeys of this year. This Fall/Winter I have made several. I went to a convention in Illinois. Illinois is not home, but it was home for a season. I traveled down roads that had numbers I recognized and past towns I have passed before. I looked out the window of the 737-800 at the Land of Lincoln, as they like to call themselves. Yet, somehow it was different, strange to me. We saw people we knew from those days, and stayed with one while there. Illinois was nice, but it is not home.
The second journey was to Anchorage. I have never lived in Anchorage. I have, however, been there a number of times. My daughter used to live there. My son-in-law was born there. It is the first U.S. home for my granddaughter. Most of my visits have been this time of year. A couple of other seasons, but Christmas and Anchorage belong together in my mind. I love to go to Alaska. I don’t care for the cold, yet it is part of its beauty. Temps hovering near zero have an odd attraction for me. Fortunately, Alaska is not my home. Well maybe fortunately. I can’t really say for sure what might have been had it been. I did interview for a youth minister’s job in Anchorage in 1977. And no I didn’t get the job and didn’t really want it. Alaska was not my home.
Trip number three begins on Wednesday. Thirteen of us will be making our way to Mexico. Me and home and Mexico do not belong in the same sentence. I have never lived there, and as far as I an tell, never want to live there. Yet, home is the operative word for Mexico. Not for me but for a family who does live there. I have help build maybe a dozen homes in Mexico. By this time next year this church will have done so thirty times (well some were schools and churches, but mostly homes). When we leave on Saturday, someone will have a home, like one they have never had before.
I have one more trip to make after that. On January 8th Sherry and I will arrive in Houston, TX at 4:45 A.M. scheduled landing. We will spend a week there. If home is where your heart is, then Houston is a second home (or third or fourth however you count these things.) I have been there once. I dropped off important, very loved people there. I flew away leaving my son, daughter-in-law and eight grandchildren to make Texas their home. To hear them talk, there is no place like Texas. Short of heaven it is the most perfect place. Of course since their arrive there has been a hurricane and now a snow storm. But who is counting. To hear James, the weather is perfect, the people friendly, it is simply wonderful. I am so happy to hear him think so. I want nothing more than for him to find happiness and fulfillment. Washington didn’t do it for him, nor did Oregon. Perhaps Texas is just that place. Time will tell.
You don’t have to be astute to catch the theme of this Christmas Eve thought. It is home. Matthew West has this song [Play Leaving Heaven]. The word ‘home’ only appears once in this song, yet it is there. Jesus had a great home, Paradise. Yet, he left heaven for earth. It was not outlandish that he should. It would be a place he would recognize, after all, he created it. He came here for the people. Like my going to Illinois, and Alaska, and Mexico, and Texas. I go there because of the people. People that I love and care for. In the case of Mexico I have yet to meet them, but I will care about them by next Saturday. I went to Alaska because my daughter and son-in-law asked me, and because I like the man whose 75th birthday we celebrated. I go to Texas because of ten people I love with all my heart. These places are not my home, for now, here is my home.
The message of Christmas is that we actually have a home we have yet to see. There is a song that has nothing to do with, and everything to do with Christmas. “This World Is Not My Home.” Our future home is still being prepared for us. One day, this place, be it Washington, Illinois, Mexico, or even Texas, will be but a memory. One day we will finally arrive HOME. Home, that home where we shall finally spend eternity with our heavenly father, share eternity with our brothers and sisters in Christ, and stand with the myriad of people (our new family) from around the globe, of every color, age, size, shape, language. Jesus left heaven this night so that we might find our new home in heaven with him.