The Christ child was born into a homeless family. Perhaps Mary and Joseph had a safe, warm, home of their own back in their town of Nazareth, but that wasn't where Jesus was born, according to Luke. Baby Jesus was born away from home, in the insecurity of a place where a cruel government had made his parents go in order to be registered for the tax.
Christmas is a time for gathering together with our families at home. It is always good to be home for Christmas confirming all that is warm, secure, and stable. Family has been defined as "a haven in a heartless world." That is how we would like to view our families - a haven from the storms of life, a warm home amid a world that can often be cold and heartless.
And yet when you think about it, that's not how we usually experience our families. A family is one of the most unstable organizations of which we are a part. A family must constantly change, must constantly be on the move if it is to stay together. New life is brought into the family through birth and marriage. There is also loss in a family through illness, death, separation and divorce, and conflict and alienation.
Our church family will also continue to change as time passes and people come and go in the life of our congregation. At Erin Mills we have, this past year, welcomed new friends and returning friends, we've said farewell to friends who moved away and to others who passed into a new life. Just like our families at home, our "faith family" will be on the move, venturing into new places and a new future as we go forward into a new year together.
The nativity story could be read as an account of a family that is in crisis. Here is Mary and Joseph engaged to be married, but not yet married, having received surprising new life in the form of a baby. This is not your "haven in a heartless world," this is a family on the move, venturing into places unknown, venturing into a future that only God knows.
As you gather with the people that you love this Christmas, I hope that all your changes are positive.
A blessed Christmas to you and your family from ours, and a hopeful New Year.