Home for the Holidays
Dorothy Day wrote, “It is no use saying that we are born two thousand years too late to give room to Christ. Nor will those who live at the end of the world have been born too late. Christ is always with us, always asking for a room in our hearts.” (Room for Christ, Dorothy Day: Sacred Writings, 1983)
It seems no matter which way I turn this week I can’t escape imagery of Christ coming to live amongst us and ultimately live within us if we allow him to do so. It isn’t just the familiar nativity creche with Mary and Joseph and the darling barn animals, it’s a stirring in my heart, which makes this Christmas feel different.
I suppose it’s very natural that I am thinking of home as Christmas draws near, because longing to be with my mother on Christmas morning, is also where my heart is.
But over the last nine months home has taken on many different meanings for us as we have had to spend more time in our own homes, while being far from the homes of our loved ones.
We have learned how to worship in community over Zoom calls. We have found this a poor substitute for being in the real presence of the Eucharist or our church family.
Yet on the other hand we have formed weeknight prayer groups that meet at 5 o’clock on video calls and we pray together. I don’t believe these nightly groups would have begun organically and persisted over the many months, if we had not been forced to meet this way because we found ourselves at home and needing community. And yet, what began in necessity, has blossomed into blessing.
This coming week we will celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ our Savior. God who came to earth as an infant and grew into a man. God who took this form so that he could come into our homes and sit at our dining room tables and share a meal with us and laugh and cry and listen to all we had to say.
All too soon after his time on Earth, he left us and returned to his father, our father who art in heaven, but before he did he promised he would not leave us alone, and sent the Holy Spirit. And as Dorothy Day said, Christ is still with us to this day, in our hearts, in our minds.
After we recognize his presence within us, we find Christ in the face of those we meet in our journey. He is the sick person who lies in an ICU bed battling Covid afraid and alone. He is in the mother who has lost hours at her job and wonders how she will make ends meet and fill the refrigerator with food for her children. We see Christ in the tired faces of our priests and pastors and front-line workers, the nurses and doctors who have worked nonstop to care for all of us, spiritually and physically. In their exhausted faces we see Christ.
CS Lewis used another metaphor of home when he described the discomfort that sometimes arises when Christ comes to live in our hearts:
“Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of - throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.” - C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
As I read the paragraph by C.S. Lewis I knew exactly what he meant. Over the course of this year, I have certainly experienced the feeling of Christ undertaking some major renovations, not only in my heart and mind but in the way I live my life and the choices I make. It has been at times uncomfortable, but ultimately has been a source of joy because I understand that Christ is making room in my heart and in my life for him to live more fully.
More importantly, I believe Christ wants to do the same in your heart, as well.
I believe this year and this Christmas will be remembered for the rest of our lives for what we have lost and what we have gained and most of all what we have learned about caring for one another, especially for those who cared so much for us.
I hope this Christmas you will welcome Christ into your home and into your heart. Merry Christmas!