Home For Christmas: Make Your Heart Christ’s Home
The letter came at Christmas time, tucked in amidst all of the cards announcing and celebrating the joys of the Christmas season. It was the kind of letter I receive all too often at this time of the year. A member of our congregation was undergoing the pain of a divorce during the holiday season. She closed her letter by writing these words: “I feel terribly alone. I hurt so deeply. It seems I have no reason to live anymore.”
Perhaps that’s the way you feel right now—maybe not as severely as my friend who wrote the letter, but lonely or afraid or hurt. For you, the holidays may be no holiday at all; but rather, the most difficult, most painful, most lonely time of the year. Perhaps you’re facing the trial of unemployment or separation or divorce. Perhaps you have been stricken with an illness, and you’re struggling to discover the piece of Jesus Christ in the midst of that illness. Maybe you’ve lost a loved one this past year, and now the onset of the Christmas season has aggravated the pain of your broken heart. You may be going through some personal trial right at this moment, and you’re wondering when that trial is ever going to come to an end. It doesn’t go away at Christmas. In some ways, it may even be worse right now.
I want to share with you a story that comes not out of the Bible, but out of tradition and legend. It may be true or it may not be true; I don’t know. But it does have an echo of true meaning for us as people who are experiencing hurt or trial or brokenness at Christmas time. Here is the story…
Pontius Pilate, the Roman official who ordered Christ’s crucifixion, and his wife, Claudia, had only one child, a son. His name was Philo. Pilate had great ambitions for his son. He wanted a son who would grow up to be a great military leader; a son who would make him proud. But Philo could never be what his father wanted. Philo was born crippled and weak and prone to illness. So Pilate became bitter and hateful toward his son. “You’re not the son I wanted”, said Pilate to Philo, and thus the two of them were estranged. Hurting, crippled, rejected by his father, Philo left his home and wandered alone in the countryside. There he learned of One who walked up and down the hillsides of Galilee and Judea preaching love and healing the sick and feeding the hungry. Philo sought out this itinerant preacher. His name was Jesus. Philo committed his life to him, and became a follower of the faith. And Jesus healed Philo, according to the legend—not only physically, but spiritually and emotionally as well, so that ultimately Philo was able to forgive the father who had rejected him. The legend ends by telling us that on the day that Jesus Christ was crucified, Philo lay at the foot of the cross, weeping over the loss of his Lord and friend.
We’re like Philo—crippled in our emotions and our spirit—maybe even disabled physically as well. Maybe we haven’t measured up to somebody else’s expectations. Maybe we struggle with low self-esteem. Maybe there are stresses and resentments and unresolved bitternesses in our family. But the message of Christmas speaks so powerfully to us in those circumstances. Christmas reminds us there is One who comes to love us unconditionally—even in our brokenness. He comes to heal us, not to condemn us. He’s taken our pain and our sorrow and our fear and our suffering unto Himself. He has come to give us hope when all reason to hope seems gone. He’s come to give us life—life here—life eternal, at a time when life sometimes seems almost unbearable. He has come to make us His own. Here’s what I want you to remember: If the season hurts, the reason for the season heals!
I urge you to turn to Him; to come home to the One whose birth we celebrate at Christmas. Let Him touch you and heal you and make you whole. Make your heart His home. For our sake, God has become flesh. For our sake, He lived among us, and we beheld His glory—the glory as of the only Son of God the Father, full of grace and truth. For our sake He suffered and died and rose again, full of life and light which the darkness has not, cannot, and shall not ever overcome.
That’s the real meaning of Christmas. The light of Jesus Christ shines in your darkness and in mine. That’s what Christmas can mean for us. Therefore, this Christmas,
Make your heart Christ’s home!