The Way Home
A Christmas Devotion
by Jane L. Fryar
In all kinds of ways, November and December evoke thoughts about the road home. Where does that road lead you? Through a crowded concourse at the Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport? Down a tree-lined street in Spokane? Up the front steps and past a porch swing in a village just outside Springfield?
In my own heart, the road home will always lead across a wind-swept Iowa prairie under a leaden sky. As I drive, I hear the damp air whispering hoarse rumors of an approaching blizzard. In the twilight, the gravel crunches beneath my tires, a sound that signals the five-miles-and-you’ve-made-it point in a daylong journey. Relief and a simmering pot of homemade chili await me in my mother’s kitchen as supper time nears. I breathe a sigh of relief as my heart strains to catch the first rays of light from the windows of home.
Mom’s in heaven now. I live near my family in the metro St. Louis area, and the farmhouse that sheltered me for decades now opens its arms to other children seeking refuge from freezing rain. Still, whenever I hear the word home, that one front door that opened into Thanksgiving and Christmas so long ago springs instantly to mind.
John the Baptizer had more than a warm meal and family affection in mind as he shouted out the homecoming invitation that stood all Judea and most of Galilee on its head. He repeated the warnings and promises proclaimed by the prophets that had preceded him, but the repetition came with a renewed sense of urgency. Heaven’s High King had prepared a wedding feast for his Son, and the banquet was about to begin.
That Son had lain as a sweet human baby in Bethlehem’s manger, swathed in strips of cloth and cradled in his mother’s arms. That Son grew up to die a gory death on Calvary’s cross. In his agony, he fulfilled the words spoken by ancient Israel’s earthly King David a thousand years before: “I am a worm and not a man” (Psalm 22:6 NIV®). That Son paid the incalculable debt that we, the Father’s rebellious children, had amassed by our sins.
In doing all this, the world’s Messiah opened for us the highway home. More than that, he himself became that highway. “I am the way . . .” he declared. There is no other. “No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6 NIV®).
Sadly, in the day of John and the messengers of the Most High who came before him, many ignored the Good News. Sadly, still today many of the Father’s lost and straying children don’t know the Way, the way home. Some, made cynical by life in a world of hurt, don’t want to let themselves believe the Way even exists. Some, having lost count of the times they have run away from home, believe they will never again be welcome on the Highway of Holiness. Some, busy with the toys and trivia of their lives, have forgotten how much they need their Father’s forgiveness, how much they miss their Brother’s embrace.
Away in a Manger
Jesus spent the first Christmas away from home. He spent it away from heaven, away from the Father’s throne, away from the angel choirs and the praises that rightfully belonged to him. He spent Christmas away from home, away in a manger, to make it possible for all the Father’s scattered children to come home for Christmas, home forever.
How fitting, then, for those of us who have known the joy of our heavenly Father’s smile, to find ways to share the hope of homecoming with those who find themselves lost, alienated, or alone.
Let the love of the Christ Child lead you. Keep your efforts simple, but sincere. As you talk to them, focus on Jesus, not on your congregation. Involve as many people—adults and children, teens and grandparents, leaders and laity—as you can. When everyone understands the why behind the what you are doing, it’s much easier for him or her to take advantage of unexpected opportunities that will arise along the way.
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