How to Celebrate Christmas When You Don't Have a 'Home'

What it really means to be 'home for the holidays.'

BY ZAC HARREL GOD December 20, 2016

You’ve heard the phrase, and probably the song, too: “There’s no place like home for the holidays.” This Christmas classic is all about the nostalgia of coming back home, back to the comfortable and nurturing.

For many of us, though, this song doesn’t represent reality anymore.

In the last three years, I’ve lost my grandmother, my aunt, both of my wife’s grandfathers and my own mother. So now, the family I used to gather with every year is not the same. There is something missing. Time and their passing has changed our moments together. They are still special but they are not the same. “Home” is no longer home.

I am homesick for what used to be—to hear my mom’s laugh, to eat my grandmother’s food. But when we’re feeling this kind of longing for comfort and nostalgia, we’re really longing for more than a house with family members in it: We’re longing for home in a much deeper sense.

The point of homesickness.

This longing is a spiritual longing, because I am not just longing for a place—I am longing for what that place represents. In a healthy home, we are loved and accepted. And feeling of being homesick is a longing to know peace.

And this points us to Jesus.

In Jesus, I am loved and accepted. In Jesus, I know peace and joy. In Jesus, I find my true home. My longing finds fulfillment in Jesus.

And because of this, we can’t find contentment being home for the holidays because, let’s be honest, there are no perfect homes. Something will always be wrong or amiss. So our contentment must be truly found in Jesus, and our true homes are His presence.

In John 14, Jesus tells His disciples that He is going away to prepare a place for them, a place in His father’s house. The longings for home we in this life can only be satisfied in the presence of Jesus for eternity. Yes, God, in His grace, gives us glimpses of eternal home in our families and homes here, but these are just glimpses.

No place like Church for the holidays.

The body of Christ at its best represents a place to belong. And for those struggling with a sense of lost-home this Christmas season, the Church can step in.

In a real way, church members have helped fill the void left by the loss of my other home. Sure, they can never replace my mom, but they can love me with the love of Christ, pray for me, encourage me and walk with me through the valleys of this life.

My church is a place where I can be myself, and know I am loved and accepted.

The church must be a place where the homeless—of all sorts—can find a place to belong.

Christmastime is hard for many of us, because it reminds us of the brokenness of this world and the brokenness and loss within our own lives. We have lost family, we have walked through unspeakable tragedy, we are dealing with sickness and pain.

Jesus entered into the brokenness of this world and experienced this loss, this separation and this death firsthand—all so that we might find our home in Him. Our longing for what used to be, for things to be made right again finds its fulfillment in Him.

ZAC HARREL

is husband to Shandra, daddy to Evahlyn, and pastor to First Baptist Church Gustine, TX.