Home for the Holidays

Home for the Holidays

What does that mean? If you live alone, do you have a home? If that is just someplace where you feel secure and comfortable, the I guess it's home. What about homeless people who live on the street, in a tent, or a shelter? By definition they have no home or physical security. For the first time in several years, I stayed home for Thanksgiving rather than travel to visit friends.

To me, home always meant where my parents lived even many years after I had left. Going home meant going to visit my parents and my sister. Now that most of my family and many of my friends are gone, that is no longer an option for me. Both of my former partners are gone.

Our LGBT Center provides many services and programs in an effort to serve as a home for the community that has no other home. Our church hosts many programs for the dispossessed and those struggling with recovery. Our Christian faith declares that Jesus is our home and our salvation so why should be afraid? C.S. Lewis’s struggles with his doubt of his faith inspires us that we are not alone in our concerns.

Finding our place in the world only occurs when we learn to reach out to others and are not preoccupied with our own needs, wants, and emotions. We find hope, love, and security when we serve others and become less concerned only with ourselves. That is true even of families and not just for those who live alone. Families who are totally absorbed with their daily activities and ignore the needs of the larger community are emotionally unfulfilled and alone. I have read of many wealthy people who even though they are financially secure feel isolated and alone because they have cut themselves off from the community. They seek security by putting up high fences and gates because they are afraid of other people who might want to steal some of their wealth and possessions. And so they become prisoners of their possessions.

I like the slogan I heard recently. Instead of worrying about putting Christ back into Christmas, we should worry about putting Christ back into Christianity. If our religion has become so politicized and focused on dogma rather than serving the needs of others, then it has become hollow and bereft of spiritual integrity. Jesus was a good and practicing Jew who never set out to form a new religion. His purpose was to renew the hearts and minds of people to become wholly pure and righteous, not just in observing certain religious rules and regulations.

So if we want to observe Christmas, New Year's, Rosh Hashanah, Hanukkah or Kwanzaa, we first have to examine ourselves and our intentions. Are our celebrations just an excuse to have a party? Are we reflecting on the past year and our intentions for the coming year? Are we examining our faith, our doubts, and renewing our commitments? Do we come to worship just for the ritual? How do we observe the "Holy Days?"

We only will come home to our heritage when we renew our childhood experiences in the light of our adult understanding of the purpose of life and how we should live it.