(By Heather Marshall)
There’s No Place Like Home For The Holidays, I’ll Be Home For Christmas, and Driving Home For Christmas. What is the common denominator? They are all songs about being home for Christmas.
Why is home so important at Christmas? Is it about a cozy decorated house, delicious food, and exchanging gifts? While these are all beautiful aspects of Christmastime, I believe the main draw of being home for Christmas is family.
I remember a year when I almost didn’t make it home for Christmas. I was living and working four hours away from my family, and during the wee hours of Christmas Eve morning I awoke with a nasty case of the stomach flu. Unable to drive home. I called my parents as early as I thought was reasonable and through tears, I told them the bad news.
Without a moment’s hesitation, my Dad said, “I’m putting on my coat and coming to get you right now.” I was so happy that he would drive a total of eight hours to come and get me. I don’t remember any of the gifts that were under the tree that year, but I still remember the gift of my Dad coming to get me so I would not miss Christmas with my family.
While home and family are celebrated at Christmas, some are grieving the loss of a loved one and many experience the pain of a broken family at Christmastime. Even the words of the song “I’ll be home for Christmas” speak about being home at Christmas as a dream to be longed for. Sadly, the vision of an ideal family Christmas is not reality for many.
Broken families sadden the heart of God. He established the family institution at the very beginning because it reflects His character and His heart. No matter the status of our earthly family, there is always hope because God has a plan to redeem the family unit. When we have put our trust in Christ for salvation, we have a perfect heavenly Father and a beautiful eternal home awaiting us.
One day as I was reading John 14, I was struck with the image of our amazing heavenly family. Jesus says in verse 23, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.”
God the Father, the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit choose to make their home with those who love them! We are adopted into this family as children of God. “So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith” (Galatians 3:26).
This family is filled with flawless love, God’s love. Like the Christmas wreath hanging on my door, this love has no beginning or end; it’s infinitely perfect. Jesus describes it in this way, “The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them” (John 14:21).
When we love someone, we want to know more about them. Jesus promises that He will reveal Himself to us because He and the Father love us through and through.
Love for my family is a motivator for me in preparing my home for Christmas. The tree, the lights, the candles, and, of course, the nativity scene all add to the ambiance, creating warmth and joy.
In John 14 Jesus said that He has returned to heaven to prepare a home for us. He is preparing this home for us because He loves us and no beautifully decorated earthly home will ever compare to the home that He is preparing for us. It will be beyond comprehension and will bring us complete joy and satisfaction because He will always be there with us.
Jesus didn’t want us to be alone while He was preparing our amazing home, so He asked the Father to give us an advocate, the Holy Spirit, to be with us forever (John 14:15). The Holy Spirit He makes His home within us. In our earthly family, sometimes we like to have space from our family members, but it’s not that way with the Holy Spirit. We need His presence as our constant comforter and helper.
The Spirit, our advocate, lives inside of us. In Scripture, our bodies are called temples in which He resides. “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies” (1 Corthinians 6:19-20). Similar to how we prepare our physical homes for receiving our family at Christmas, we might think about how we can prepare for the Holy Spirit’s presence during this Christmas advent season.
Christmas is a busy season with shopping, baking, entertaining, decorating, and the list goes on. We can easily become worn out and overwhelmed. One way we can prepare our hearts and bodies for being in the presence of the Holy Spirit is to prioritize what is really important. Spending time with Him in quietness and listening for His voice is essential for us to draw close to Him. One of my favorite ways to do this is curled up in front of the fire and the brightly lit Christmas tree with God’s Word, prayer, and some Christmas worship music, and of course a cup of hot coffee (or tea).
Sitting in His presence here on earth is a minute foretaste of the joy and rest that we will experience in our eternal home with our eternal family. It will be incomparable and it is guaranteed. Earthly families may fail us, but Jesus promises, “I will not leave you as orphans, I will come to you” (John 14:18). We are not orphans; we have a forever family in God the Father, our Lord Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit. We also have brothers and sisters in Christ, our church family.
God intends our church family to be a reflection of our loving eternal heavenly family. I was reminded of this a few years ago at Christmas when I was able to attend a special dedication service for my niece who was being adopted by my sister-in-law. It was so beautiful to see my niece and my sister-in-law celebrated, prayed over and loved by fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.
As members of the body of Christ, we have the privilege of being brothers and sisters in God’s family together. We are exhorted to love each other. “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love one to another” (John 13:34-35). We should be ready to draw alongside our Christian brothers and sisters in love at all times, but especially at Christmas-time when the need might be ever more keenly felt.
One day our eternal forever family and our church family will be united in the beautiful home prepared for us by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Our current situation in our earthly families may not be what we wish it were, but I pray we will be encouraged this Christmas as we meditate on our future home and family. Allow the words of the song “Home” by the band Mercy Me to encourage your heart about the bright future that awaits.
We are almost home
Brother it won’t be long
Soon all your burdens will be gone
Sister run wild, run free
Hold your head up, keep pressing on
We are almost home.