Ask a group of people to list ten words that come to mind when hearing the word “home,” and some common themes might emerge: family, house/apartment, warmth, security, belonging, etc. Ask enough people, though, and you’d discover that not all the words and thoughts are positive. Words like conflict, uncertainty, strain and regret might appear on certain lists.
As we approach Christmas and prepare for our journey through the Advent season, we’ll be looking at what the Bible has to say about several kinds of homecomings: the settling of God’s people in the Promised Land, their return to Israel from exile, the birth of Jesus Christ as the time when God “came to earth and tented among us,” the promised return of Jesus, and what it means for us to find our home in the Body of Christ, the Church. We’ll discover that Scripture speaks of both great joy and deep longing when it comes to homecomings.
We’ll be gathering often as we move through Advent. I’m so thankful for those who lead opportunities for shared fellowship and ministry, such as the youth craft fair and bake sale (which not only fills our bellies and allows a jump-start on our Christmas shopping, but also supports the summer youth mission trip to South Dakota), and the women’s Christmas banquet, which has served as a homecoming of sorts for many family members and friends who eagerly await catching up over a delicious meal and enjoying an excellent program. This year’s program, in particular, is designed to engage those who might not yet have found a home in any church. We’ll celebrate the joy of the season with concerts by our kids and our adult choir, and we’ll join in carols both familiar and new as we consider again the gift of God at Christmas.
As we gather, let’s be attentive to ways we can make Redeemer feel more like home to those who’ve been around a long time, and for those who are our newest visitors. Early in Advent, we’ll have the opportunity to literally serve as home for several families as we host Families Moving Forward once again. Thank you to those who have already signed up as individuals, families and community groups to serve in this important ministry. Thanks especially to the many community groups who are embracing the challenge to serve together and have led to our strongest early signups ever for Families Moving Forward. If you’re not yet part of a community group, there’s still a home for you in one of several that meet in various places throughout the week. Talk to Rob Schwanz or me for more information.
We recently had visitors at Redeemer who checked out both of our services over the course of a couple weeks, and noted the warm welcome they received at each. Thank you for taking the time to reach out to folks who may be new, and for overcoming the awkwardness you might feel from not knowing whether someone is newer to Redeemer. It’s never too late to learn a new name, even if someone looks really familiar!
Just like the word “home,” the word “church” might stir up a mix of emotions among different people, so let’s be particularly welcoming and gracious during this season when we remember once again the way that God reached across the distance to us to meet our deepest needs through his Son, Jesus Christ. In our celebrations at Redeemer, in our homes and elsewhere, let’s intentionally seek opportunities to share the love of God through Jesus Christ that has allowed us to find our true home in him.
Peace and Joy, Pastor Ben