Summary: This sermon is about being "home" for Christmas by Having HOPE in the Messiah!
Last year at this time, I was busy talking about making the trip home to Ohio for Christmas! Home, as in where I grew up, the place of my roots. And
I recall reflecting about how Joseph and Mary had to make that trip to Bethlehem, the city of David, to the place of the lineage of Joseph a direct descendant of King David.
Of course most of us know that sometimes going home at the holiday’s isn’t always as pleasant as it sounds. There is the strained relationships; the cousins you don’t care if you will see them for years; that embarrassing aunt or uncle you never wanted your fiancée to meet until after the wedding vows were said; facing that mother that you know will start mothering you as soon as you arrive; or that father who will give you that disapproving look of your life’s choices. Yes the trip home to the place where you grew up is not always an easy one.
It sort reminds me of the story of a man in Phoenix who calls his son in New York and says, "I hate to ruin your day, but I have to tell you that your
mother and I are divorcing; forty-five years of misery is enough. "Pop, what are you talking about?" the son screams. "We can’t stand the sight of each other any longer," the old man says. "We’re sick of each
other, and I’m sick of talking about this, so you call your sister in Chicago and tell her," and he hangs up. Frantic, the son calls his sister, who explodes on the phone. "They’re not getting divorced if I have anything to do about it," she shouts, "I’ll take care of this." She calls Phoenix immediately, and screams at the old man, "You are NOT getting divorced. Don’t do a single thing until I get there. I’m calling my brother back, and we’ll both be there tomorrow.
Until then, don’t do a thing, DO YOU HEAR ME? Don’t do a thing" and hangs up.
The old man hangs up his phone and turns to his wife. "Okay," he says, "They’re coming for Thanksgiving and paying their own fares...Now what do we tell them for Christmas?
Maybe there is a hassle sometimes about going home. No doubt we encountered it last year in the ice storm. But there is something about being. Last year
I concluded by saying that being home, is about being home with Christ!
"Home is really what or where you make it!". To us, Junction is our home. It has been our home for four and a half years. But that is our physical home,
but what about being home in the Spirit? Being right at the manger with Christ as King.
II. Anthony grew up in an Italian bakery in a mostly Italian neighborhood of New York. His father was the baker, and as long as Anthony could remember he
was at work in his father’s business. The sights and sounds of the bakery permeated every aspect of Anthony’s life. The heat of the oven. The smell of
fresh bread. The sweat and aches of hard work. The whistle of his father while he baked. The stories of his immigrant father’s dreams being realized
in a new land.
What Anthony came to know each day was the HOPE of those dreams being fulfilled. He dreamed of one day INHERITING the business from his father and
realizing his own dreams. And he watched the POWER of his father as he kneaded and rolled out the dough, careful creating each item with love.
One day, as Anthony neared adulthood and had himself perfected the craft of baking, his father came to him and asked him where he would make his own home and set up his own shop? What could father be talking about, this, this is my home! This is my shop too! Anthony, so disappointed, he left in the night and wandered in bitterness for many years. He held odd jobs. Was
mostly a vagrant and never settled down or stayed in one place too long, though he often checked in with a cousin who lived in Chicago.
One time as he stopped by his cousins, he learned that a letter had come from his home in New York. It was written by his father:
My dearest Anthony,
I never intended for you to leave. I only knew that my small shop could not support two families, but I had saved enough to open a shop for you in another place or town. Now I am old and gray. My eyes are failing, as is my health. Please come home and claim what has always been yours.
III. Anthony returned home to where he worked side by side with his now frail father. He became his father’s eyes when the light seemed dim. He lifted and kneaded and worked the dough remembering the power of his father.The smell of fresh bread filled the bakery once again. And there was that whistling sound being made now as they worked. Not from papa’s wrinkled lips, but now it was Anthony who whistled with a hope in the air.