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The Whole Christmas Story | Homesick

So the LORD God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken. After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life.

GENESIS 3:23–24

 


 

Christmas is the best and worst of times, depending on your life situation.

For those in cosy, warm homes with loving families, it is often a season of celebration, feasting, and reassuring tradition. But for the many who are rootless, lonely, or generally struggling the rest of the time, those difficulties only become more acute at this point in the year. If you are in the latter category, perhaps you will be comforted to know you are not alone.

Among the consequences of Adam and Eve’s rebellion and subsequent fractured relationship with God was banishment from their first home. As much as anything, the Old Testament is the story of the quest for a place of belonging, and God’s ever-patient openness to provide for this deepest of needs.

Abraham was the first to receive the promise of nationhood and land. Three generations later, his growing family of descendants fled famine to Egypt, only to end up as slaves for 400 years. After that, there were 40 years of wandering the desert, and then, finally, entry into the Promised Land. But it was not the forever home of their dreams, as it turned out. Humankind has never been able to resist the urge to rebel against God – and God will not be mocked.

Israel’s exile to Babylon in the 6th Century BC caused pain that echoed through many centuries, touching nerves that themselves reach back all the way to Eden. The perpetual, nagging sense of homesickness that seems to dog so many of us also goes back to that earliest history. You don’t have to look far to see it echoed in the culture around us – from careerism to the commodification of dating, we’re constantly building surrogate ‘homes’ in an attempt to recapture Eden.

Jesus knows what it’s like to be literally homeless. He left heaven for earth; his mother gave birth to him far from the comforts of home because of the census; and he was a refugee in Egypt as a toddler and an itinerant for his last three years. He was willing to live in this way to end our wandering. His invitation stands: ‘Live in me. Make your home in me, just as I do in you’ (John 15:4, MSG).

As those who live in the security and warmth of belonging in Christ, we have the opportunity to communicate that welcome to the spiritual wanderers we encounter on our frontlines.

Jo Swinney
Director of Communications, A Rocha. Jo and LICC have teamed up to adapt her 2021 Advent book, The Whole Christmas Story, into a 25-day devotional journey that connects the whole story of Christmas to the whole of our lives.

How can you demonstrate God’s welcome towards those wandering on your frontline this week? Join the conversation below.

Comments

  1. The stand out phrase for me is ‘God will not be mocked’. My first reaction is, isn’t that exactly what Jesus submitted to at his trial, being dressed as a king with a crown of thorns. His response was one of love, for they did not know what they were doing. At the same time I wonder if I just mentally gloss over judgement as it is uncomfortable and focus on the love of the Father whose arms are ever open to receive his children.

    By Colin Cox  -  4 Dec 2023
  2. This week I am supporting someone about to be evicted by locating a solicitor that will appear in court for them hopefully pro bono or through legal aid. Christmas can be a tough time for those who are regulars at the community cafe run by the church I attend. They see those with more wealth shopping for Christmas and it brings home yet again what they lack.

    By David  -  4 Dec 2023
  3. As one who struggles with loneliness, I found this message comforting. The loss of family and the isolation of being a writer tend to compound each other, especially this time of year. Yesterday, at church, I shared these feelings with a few friends and a few people who were new to me. As mentioned in today’s message, I found that I was not as alone as I thought. Later, at the local pharmacy, I spoke with a couple of people I don’t know, the conversations at church having paved the way for greater openness with others. It’s helpful to be reminded that although we’re not yet “home”, we’re on the way, and that as we travel, Jesus knows what it is to be homeless. In receiving his comfort, we can comfort others with the same comfort we have received from the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort.

    By Adele Annesi  -  4 Dec 2023
  4. “O Lord, you have always been our home…” Psalm 90:1 GNT has meant a lot to me for years. Your devotion today has been good for me, tying the homesickness for Eden in to all my longings – just as I was thinking about my parents and sibling at “home” in the UK, and the Christmas presents they lovingly send every year. I long for my own four children to find their home in the Lord!
    Thank you.

    By Hilary Lutwyche  -  4 Dec 2023
  5. very reasuring to be reminded we are followers of jesus but at times we forget so thank you for that reminder

    By joanna thomas  -  5 Dec 2023
  6. Judah’s exile to Babylon perhaps? JC.

    By John Compton  -  7 Dec 2023

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