By Anna Beth Cross
What does it mean to be home? During this time of year, we hear a lot of phrases such as “home is where your heart is,” especially if you watch as many Christmas Hallmark movies or Rom-Coms like I do. The idea of home leaves us with questions…where is home? Who gets to define what home is? Is home a place or a person(s)? Each of us can answer these questions differently from one another. I think there is beauty in knowing home means something different for you than it does for me, yet there is something so unifying about the concept of home that brings us together, especially during the Advent season.
My concept of home in my own life has shifted in many ways, especially over the past decade. I have now lived in five different states and in eight different houses, while being a part of eight different church congregations, and attending seven different schools. Throughout all of these changing circumstances, I have considered home to be where my immediate family is, even if I am not living in that place anymore.
While I was living in Texas for undergrad and seminary, I often used language about “going home for the holidays” or “going home to see my family,” in reference to going to Birmingham, Alabama to visit. Even though I have not lived there in years, and did not even grow up in the house my parents live in now, I still refer to that place as home. Why is that? Clearly, I have been away for over eight years now, and have started my own life and family here in Raleigh, North Carolina. But there is something about walking in the doors of a familiar place, smelling my Mimi’s Chinese food recipe that my dad is cooking, hearing my brother cheer for a sports team on TV, or seeing a “welcome home” note on my bedroom door from my mom that makes that place home for me.
As my new husband, David, and I have been setting up our own home together, there are things we have added to our apartment to make us both feel at home, merging the places where we grew up into one place we share together. Each of us has our own ideas of what home is, but this Advent season we are searching for the same home we all are longing for: A Home For All.
This week, our Advent theme focuses on what it means to prepare for the coming of God’s kin-dom, a place that will truly be A Home For All. Here we sit in this already and not-yet reality, waiting with anticipation, while simultaneously invited to join in preparing the way, as John the Baptist proclaims in Luke 3. This proclamation from John helps me find truth in the idea that home is about relationships and love for people. We are being invited into the call to help prepare this place here on earth while we wait in the in-between. There is something so comforting about the call, knowing we can help others find the feelings of home we ourselves experience in the places, spaces, and relationships we call home.
What is home for you? During this Advent season, how can you help prepare the way for the coming of A Home For All?