Yesterday was Christmas. Whew, we’re worn out. The crowd will be thin today, most likely. Only those faithful ones who come whenever the door opens will be present. Too many others say they have to tend to their guests or that they are the guests because they went home for Christmas. That is understandable. And we can’t really blame them, especially after weeks of saying, “Come Home for Christmas!”
But this is a “life goes on” week. It is a “come down the mountain” week. We go back into the world where we have to deal with the absence as much as the presence, where we have to face uncertainty that lies alongside our hope. We tell the story of Jesus being lost in the temple. The lost child is every parent’s nightmare. What have you lost? What have you forgotten, overlooked, ignored? This week is a cold splash of water on a frigid morning after a long night of celebration.
Yet, we don’t dampen the spirit too much. We can bask in the glow of the season for a little while longer. After all, this is Christmastide; we’re still surfing on that wave.
We can ease our way back into the brokenness of the world around us. We can be real about what we face day by day in this life. But we do it from the confidence that we are surrounded by home, by a community that truly loves and cares for us. The church is the visible sign that we are not alone in this world, no matter how difficult it might be at any one time.
So, how do we extend the presence of home when we leave? When we re-enter the world around us? We can, on the one hand, become attuned to the presence of God all around us. The world isn’t the absence of God, no matter how much it might feel like it at times. It isn’t our calling to get through the world as quickly as possible to finally get to some heaven someplace else. No, heaven is here; Christ is here; home is here. We just need the eyes to see it.
Where have you seen God at work in the world around you? Tell those stories this week. Tell the stories of preparation, getting ready to immerse ourselves again. Pray those prayers of petition, where we ask God to be visible to us in our world, for God’s will to be known in our lives and in our community. Ask for Emmanuel, God with us, to be with us! And then affirm the faith that says we know God is indeed with us!
What habit will we continue after this season ends that will keep us close to that presence? What opportunities will the community provide that keeps our eyes open to the movement of the Spirit in and around us? How can we study together, pray together, share sightings together as we carry home with us into the world around us?
We don’t want to lose this, this feeling of home, of connection, of hope. So what can we do to hold on to it, to keep from being lost at home?
Rev. Dr. Derek Weber, Director of Preaching Ministries, served churches in Indiana and Arkansas and the British Methodist Church. His PhD is from University of Edinburgh in preaching and media. He has taught preaching in seminary and conference settings for more than 20 years.