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As fall turns to winter and the light begins to fade, I find myself growing more introspective almost every year about this time. I remember holidays with family and friends past with a longing for home that is palpable. Sometimes, those memories bring heartache or sorrow. But I think they almost always represent for us a longing that we all have deep within ourselves for home — a place of belonging and unconditional love. If we haven’t known this kind of home, the longing might be buried deep within a wall of pain. If we have experienced close to this kind of home, we long for it to return or deepen. I am also reminded that many do not have a home at all.

When something hits close to home, it affects us deeply. During the Advent and Christmas season, we journey through scriptures and rituals that are tender, heavy with emotion, and vulnerable. We carry the memories and truths of this season close to our hearts. The Advent season embodies the “already but not yet” tension of our faith: Emmanuel is with us, and yet, God’s promised day—our everlasting home—is not fully realized. It names our deep longing for God to come close to us. I think this is at the heart of our longing for home.

Friends, what do you long for? Is it this kind of home where you belong and are loved completely? How can we create this kind of home for ourselves and our neighbors? 

Don’t be afraid to listen to the longings of your heart.

This year, I pray that God comes close and you experience the love and belonging of home found in our Emmanuel, God with us.