Series: Coming Home
Sermon: Coming Down Home
Pastor Diane Gordon
Mt Pleasant FUMC
December 3, 2017
Scriptures: Isaiah 64:1-9
In the United States, Christmastime and thoughts of home just go together. “I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” and “There’s No Place like Home for the Holidays,” are two of the most popular holiday songs. Christmas movies and television shows regularly feature stories of people going to the family home or extended family home over the holidays. Among the rituals we create for this darkest time of year in the Northern hemisphere, perhaps the majority of them are associated with either going home or doing special things at home – whether lighting candles and have a time of family prayer during Advent, or decorating a Christmas tree, or caroling through a neighborhood, or hosting festive “open house” parties for friends, neighbors, and colleagues. It’s all about home.
Advent and Christmas Season are about another kind of homecoming, the homecoming of Christ to redeem and renew us, this earth, and all creation till “heaven and nature sing” with joy eternally. As we look at the brokenness in the world around us we long for Jesus’ return, even as we celebrate his initial coming down home to earth as a newborn baby. We long for re-birth each year, hoping that our hearts and homes are filled more and more with the love of Christ.
Our hope is renewed by the impact of a tiny, vulnerable infant, born not in a palace, but in a simple stable. God used the humblest of settings to remind us that even with humble beginnings and lives filled with complications and difficulty, the power of the Holy Spirit can transform, heal and redeem us for God’s purposes. Purpose #1 is to love us and fill us with that love so that it overflows our lives and touches the lives of those around us. God uses us as a part of this process.
What does it look like, to come home to Jesus? What does it look like to create space in our lives for the holy? How might we be different, think differently, believe differently, live differently, if we truly embraced the in-breaking of your presence as you have already torn open the heavens and come down among us?
To love another is a gift. That “other” may be human or animal. Many of you know that Tom and I had to put our beloved Gracie-dog down this past Friday. It was time, but it was not easy. The most loving thing was to let her go; to end her suffering. The most loving thing was the hardest thing of all. We are grateful for all your prayers and expressions of concern as we shared this news.
If we had not loved her so, it would not hurt so much. It makes me wonder why people are so devoted to their animals but can turn around and be mean or simply apathetic to the needs of people around them? Are we really so self-focused that we don’t notice? Or is it that the needs are so great, so relentless, that we are quickly overwhelmed?
Last week, Wednesday, was the anniversary of the death of Dorothy Day, the founder of the Catholic Worker Movement. Dorothy once said, “I really only love God as much as I love the person I love the least.” As I reflect on that, it occurs that sometimes we are kinder to strangers and animals than we are to those closest to us. How often do we let slip mean-spirited words of criticism to those whose names we know, those we live with, we worship with, or with whom we work? How are we able to consider ourselves followers of Jesus and be so callus?
A reformation is needed. As Jesus came down home to set us free from bondage to sin, he also laid out some clear expectations. Loving God and one another were at the top of his list. Charity is said to begin at home. Charity means more than an institution engaged in relief of the poor. Charity is benevolent goodwill toward or love of humanity.
Instead of dividing ourselves and building walls, we should be learning more about the other and respecting with the same respect we desire. Instead of demonizing one another, we need to seek understanding and communication of the common good we share. Instead of taking advantage and profiting from the misery of others, our goal should be the well-being of all, as they are our brothers and sisters, children of our heavenly Father.
Come down home, Lord Jesus. Send your Spirit among us and help us to love one another the way you already love. Then our hearts and homes will be truly prepared for you this Christmas. Amen.