Half-asleep from the ten-plus-hour drive, my little family pulled into the driveway around eight o'clock in the morning. Our silver car was trailered behind us, filled to the brim with boxes and suitcases, and a menagerie filled the back seat of the truck- a dog, three fish, and an extremely grouchy turtle.
The sunshine seemed almost offensive because of how tired I was. I resisted the urge to just walk into the house and find a bed and crash. Instead, I turned to the dog (who had slept most of the way, lucky jerk), and said cheerfully, "We're home!"
"Home" has been a very fluid concept for me, these past five years.
In five years, we've lived in an apartment at the Bible Camp where we worked, then a house at Camp, then briefly in our camper followed immediately by crashing at a cabin at Camp, then finally in our own little farmhouse... and now up in the mountains in my brother-in-law's spare bedroom.
Lots of work, so many boxes, plenty of stress.
It's been an adventure.
I wonder about Mary's packing strategy when the angel came and told the holy family to hurry to Egypt.
It's like one of those hypothetical questions- the ice breakers at parties. If you had 60 seconds to leave your home, what would you take with you?
Except for Mary and Joseph, it wasn't a game. It was real life.
Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” And he rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed to Egypt and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, “Out of Egypt I called my son.”
Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, became furious, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had ascertained from the wise men. - Matthew 2:13-16
The Bible doesn't tell us much about those years.
I think it must have been really hard. How must those years have felt to Mary and Joseph?
Did they even get a chance to say goodbye? Did their neighbors wonder what had happened to the strange carpenter man who married the adulteress, and the baby they'd brought home from Bethlehem? Did Joseph leave projects unfinished? Did Mary leave bread dough in the pan?
Far from their families (even families where there was tension and hurt), far from their culture, far from their places of worship, they must have felt like they were in some sort of limbo, waiting for the death of the king to return home.
I imagine this little family holed up together, fearful that Herod would somehow find them, fearful of their communities.
Or maybe they were bolder. Maybe they invited their Egyptian neighbors over for feast days. Maybe little toddler Jesus had good friends in the community and Mary commiserated about toddler drama and cleaning and cooking with the other mothers.
But even so, did Egypt ever feel like home?
I mean, it sounds like they knew they'd be leaving. Did that knowledge in the back of their minds cause them to put up walls, keep their distance?
It must have been hard.
But they did it for the One who gives a home to the homeless.
Jesus came not just to walk this earth and understand us, not only as the unexpected answer to the hurt of humanity in this life, not only to give us a new family, but also to provide us with our eternal home.
This Advent, you may be feeling like you have nowhere call your own. Home may seem like a foreign concept.
Maybe you've lost your home to a disaster and are trying to recover a sense of belonging. Maybe you just moved away from the ones you hold dear. Maybe the place where you are feels unsafe, unwelcoming, uncomfortable.
Take it from the One who said, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” -Matthew 8:20
He gets it.
And on this earth, we may have nowhere to lay our heads. But this Christmas, we celebrate the birth of Christ Jesus, who gives us all an eternal home in heaven.
Moving doesn't change it.
Floods and fire can't destroy it.
We can't earn it and money can't secure it.
This Advent, no matter where you are, remember where you live.
As one who belongs to Christ Jesus, your home is eternal and secure in the Kingdom of God.
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