Homeless (Advent Thoughts)

Advent means ‘coming’. For ages I really didn’t understand Advent. Then a few years ago, a preacher explained that traditionally Advent preaching would focus not on the incarnation but on the return of Jesus; not on his first coming but his second coming. It was meant to be a penitential season, a time to pause and reflect.

 

I want to reflect that double perspective in these four Wednesdays before Christmas  – exploring themes in the Christmas story and applying them to us as we wait for Christ’s return. We’ll be simultaneously meditating on Christ’s first coming and second coming. Please do join me and link up your own Advent/Christmas posts below!

"Marie's beauty studio" at the Delmas 48 camp on the Petionville golf course, Port-au-Prince, Haiti

The Internet tells me that there are almost 400,000 Haitians still homeless after the 2010 earthquake. They are living out their days in hastily-erected camps, inhabiting flimsy tents. They have no home, no secure place.

 

Others in this world drift though, forced out, displaced, with no piece of earth they can call their own, nowhere to stand and settle.

 

Such was the case for God, when he dwelt on earth. The Son of Man had nowhere to lay his head. He identified with those who were poor and passing through. Even at his birth he was born in a manger, perhaps in a shed, perhaps outside, far from home.

 

I picture the scene of people everywhere, crowds, dusty roads, donkeys, rolled-up make-shift bags. People travelling, jostling, talking, sharing food, grumbling at the unnecessary bureaucracy. I imagine Mary with the pressure of the double deadline – the deadline of needing to be in a different place for the census, and the impending deadline of her baby being born. I imagine Mary as she sat on the donkey, focusing on a fixed point ahead of her, the cramps increasing in intensity, trying to breathe through the pain.

 

I think of Joseph’s anxiety as he pushed through the crowds, trying to negotiate with officials and friends. (I wonder why it was they had no relatives to offer them housing, in Joseph’s family’s home town. Had Joseph’s family disowned Mary, perhaps, for being pregnant? I don’t know.) I imagine Mary close to tears from pain and the not-knowing, the dismay at looking at the dirty animal trough, the acceptance that this would have to be it, the hoping and praying that it would be okay, that the baby would be okay.

 

I think of Mary and I think of the world’s refugees. I imagine their longing to be at home, not to be in this in-between limbo. I imagine their desire for the long journey to be over, to be settled and relaxed.

 

******

 

We too are refugees. We travel and pass through this world, but it is not our home (1 Pet 1). Even our bodies, they are not permanent, they are our temporary, make-shift accommodation (2 Cor 5).

 

Sometimes it is not the pain of this world that most strikes us – more, the unsettledness of it all. We do not feel like we really belong. We feel that we were made for more than this 9-5 drudgery, the banal and the wearying chores. We were made for more than early mornings, family rows, traffic jams, paper-pushing, watching X Factor, eating takeaways. We sometimes long for brighter days, but we don’t know what they would look like.

 

And here’s the truth: our spiritual ancestors were tentmakers, wanderers in wilderness; our saviour was a homeless drifter, born in an emergency shelter. And we too are drifting through this world, as refugees, strangers.

We do not belong. We are not home yet.

 


O Come, O Come Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear
Rejoice! rejoice!
Emmanuel will come to thee, O Israel.


I’m linking with Joy in this Journey, WIP Weds, Imperfect Prose. If you have written a post in the last week on Advent or Christmas, link up below by following these instructions:

1. Click on the ‘Add your link’ button and put in your details to link your post (only one post per week, per person please).
2. Put a link to my blog at the end of your post, so others can find the link-up too.
3. This is REALLY important (and kinda the point of the whole thing): visit the person who’s linked up before you and encourage them in the comments. You are also free to click on anyone else’s who might interest you!

 
Over to you:

  • Can you relate to feeling like you don’t belong in this world, the unsettledness of it all?

 

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23 Responses to Homeless (Advent Thoughts)

  1. Donna 10th December, 2012 at 1:49 am #

    I so very strongly relate to that feeling of not being home – that this, everything that I see and feel, isn’t quite right. It’s not home. It can be familiar and pleasant, but it’s not Home!
    A non-Christian friend of mine has just given birth to her 3rd baby, still-born at 20wks. I feel her pain, intensified by the death of her mum just 3mths ago, and the Christmas season where there’s songs and pictures of mothers and babies wherever she turns. I ache for her. The hardest thing for me in this situation, is that I can’t give her the comfort that I long to – the truth that her little son is Home. He didn’t get to come home alive from the hospital, but he is Home, and that she will get to be Home with him again one day. So whenever I pray for her, I pray for her salvation first. Because as much as she needs comfort, she needs to know The Way home more.

    • Tanya 10th December, 2012 at 8:58 pm #

      Oh wow. I am so moved by your story – and of your love and compassion for your friend that just sings through. Am praying that this Christmas time speaks to her of Immanuel, God with us – and that she experiences up that in a small way through your friendship. Praying too for her salvation and that she would find her way Home. Much love.

  2. Mark Allman 10th December, 2012 at 1:05 am #

    Tanya,
    Although we do not belong here our journey is an important one. As we struggle through the journey it is important to know that our journey will take us to a better place. While we make this journey we need to pursue others to take this difficult trip with us. As we long for our eternal home we need to make the most of our stops along the way.

    • Tanya 10th December, 2012 at 8:56 pm #

      I love how you’ve extended the metaphor and meditating on the different elements of our spiritual journey. Thanks, Mark.

  3. Ashley @ Draw Near 8th December, 2012 at 5:54 am #

    Tanya, thank you for your meaningful reflections on Advent. This gives such an extra layer of meaning to our journeys — remembering that we too, like Mary and Joseph, even like the poor, displaced of the world, like Jesus! — are wandering, awaiting truly our eternal homes. Thank you for that perspective of the Advent journey, dear Tanya. I’ve never thought of it in quite this way before.

    • Tanya 10th December, 2012 at 8:54 pm #

      I’m so glad it was a fresh way of looking at Advent for you! I think it was fresh for me, too. I also loved your post – we were thinking on similar lines this week, I guess… Thanks for stopping by – always appreciate your words. 🙂

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