It is a strange muddle of emotions at the moment, while feeling a little torn for time. We would love to be able to share a little more time with so many people! Leaving and arriving, sadness and excitement. And then there is the question, “will you be at home for Christmas?”
We no longer worry about where “home” is. Home is where we are together. But the question still throws some confusion! Does that mean staying in the UK for Christmas, returning to Tanzania, or going to Canada? In the next few weeks we will be in the three places we have called home: UK, Canada and Tanzania. And as Christmas dawns, we’ll be somewhere mid-Atlantic!
Yesterday afternoon I heard “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” play for the first time this year. This song always makes me cry and it didn’t fail this time. It’s thinking of all the soldiers that won’t make it home for Christmas. And this goes back to an old Hallmark commercial that always made me cry, in which a young boy bravely but sadly sings alone for his family without his big brother in the army, who can’t get home for Christmas. But then to everyone's amazed delight, the big brother walks in and joins the singing (actually singing “Oh Holy Night”, but it makes me cry as much as “I’ll Be Home for Christmas”).
But this Christmas, it’s also thinking of all those parents in Connecticut whose children, children just like our 6 year old, Louisa, won’t be home for Christmas this year.
It’s also fondly remembering Christmas in past years, in different homes, but knowing that home is where we belong, wherever that is. And that means that we can be home for Christmas in the UK, Canada and Tanzania. Many people won’t be “home” for Christmas. For many people, there is no home or no sense of belonging. Yesterday, as a Christmas present from Tim's brother, Steve, we really enjoyed going to see "The Hobbit" at the cinema. Here we met the dwarves who lost their kingdom (as their love of gold became greed) and then wandered as exiles, belonging nowhere. But here enters Bilbo who joins them and says " You don't have [a home]; it was taken from you. But I will help you take it back."
I know that I have a home. That I belong somewhere. For now, I know that I belong in Tanzania and so that is home. (Although at the same time it has been wonderful being "home" in the UK for these months, and yes, it will be so wonderful to be "home" with my family in Canada for Christmas!) I am so grateful for home, for belonging. Appreciating home, finding home, sharing home, showing people "home." Can't we all do more of this?
When God sent His son to the earth, he offered everyone a home. A place to belong, a relationship with Father, a family, a future hope and inheritance. He's given us a home for Christmas.