When I was a kid, we would spend summers traveling to be with family. It seemed to work as a rough rotation, alternating most summers between my dad’s side of the family in Colorado and my mom’s side of the family in Missouri. And no matter where we went, it was always home.

In Colorado, we would stay in my grandparent’s mobile home with aunts, uncles, and cousins sprawled in various rooms and sofa beds. Going anywhere always included my grandfather’s enormous yellow station wagon (nicknamed “Ol’ Yeller”), and the home almost always smelled of my grandmother’s cookies. And evenings were spent around the dining room table playing our own unique version of Canasta. It felt like home.

In Missouri, summers started at my grandmother’s suburban home and inevitably transitioned to her cabin on a large lake. Days were spent fishing off the dock or poor attempts at water skiing, evenings included my grandmother’s amazing southern-inspired cooking, and nights were spent with all the cousins sleeping on the screened-in porch. And when our visit covered the July 4th holiday, my crazy uncles would put together incredible fireworks displays that – in hindsight – should never have been legal. This, too, was home.

Neither of these locations were home in-and-of-themselves. They were home because of the people who were there. We had history, we had traditions, we had ridiculous inside jokes, we had connection. We were united in love and compassion and familiarity. We were – are – family.

As I think about these times, I realize how lucky I am to have a number of micro-communities that I can think of in this same way. We have history and traditions and ridiculous inside jokes and connection. We are family.

This time of year is often considered a time to be with family and friends. Some of us will travel, and some of us will host family and friends who travel here. It is a time of homecoming, a time of connection, a time of celebration. While not everyone looks at the Christmas season as a time of joy – indeed for some it is a period of grief – we might all see this as a time of connection and hope.

During this month, we will focus on the idea of “Coming Home.” Our worship services and sermons will focus in this way, and we will offer particular ways to connect with our faith family in fun ways:

December 3, 2017
Scripture: Isaiah 64:1-9
Activity: make an Advent or Christmas craft
(Bonus: the Advent Kick-off is this night!)

December 10, 2017
Scripture: Psalm 85:1-2, 8-13
Activity: wear your favorite (or ugliest) Christmas sweater to church!

December 17, 2017
Scripture: 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24
Activity: sing Christmas carols
(Bonus: the church Christmas caroling group is this night!)

December 24, 2017
Morning Scripture: Luke 1: 46-55
Activity: with family or a friend, talk through or even act out Mary & Joseph arriving at the Inn when they were turned away; then do it again, imagining that they’re allowed in!
Evening Scripture: Luke 2:1-20

December 31, 2017
Scripture: Luke 2:22-40
Activity: whether you celebrate the new year quietly or exuberantly, take time in prayer (alone or with others) to renew your covenant with God.

It is my hope, dear friends, that these Advent and Christmas celebrations renew the light of Christ for us all.

Pastor Bob