Joyce Rupp is a contemporary mystic often described as a “spiritual midwife” and I couldn’t agree more. Her writing has been a companion of mine over the years and every once in a while, I pull one of her many books off my shelf, trusting to find exactly what I need to hear, and this morning was no exception. May I Have this Dance is one of her many books and is divided into reflections for each month of the year in harmony with the liturgical season. Tucked into the chapter for December is this lovely piece called Homecoming.
Something in me is stirring; I think it is a part of me that waits in lonely exile and yearns for a homeland. It’s the hidden part of me that wanders aimlessly, stumbling in the dark, crying to be found. O God of exiles and strangers, find the homeless parts of me; guide them toward yourself, for you are my promised land. Take this stranger inside of me and find familiar soil for it.
Keep mindful of the Emmanuel, whose sojourn brought a glimpse of home. -Joyce Rupp
How strange, and yet also at the same time familiar, to be offered the image of Advent as a time of “homecoming.” After all, isn’t this season about the metaphorical journey we take each year moving us closer to the night we celebrate the birth of Jesus and the in-breaking of Christ and God’s love in our lives? What does this journey have to do with a sense of coming home? That is what I am thinking about this morning, and in short, my answer is, well, “everything.” I think Advent is indeed a kind of homecoming.
As we continue this journey together at Trinity, I find myself welcoming a new way of walking in the world, a new way of coming home. It is a way that feels a bit more spiritually authentic and vulnerable and real. Together we are walking into a time of important and deep discovery as a community; we are starting to gain clarity and purpose as we open ourselves to God’s dreams for us. We are more and more bold as we continue to articulate who and how we want to welcome the stranger, invite others to join and deepen the ties that bind us together on the journey.
Some of you know I grew up living in many different countries as our family traveled with my father who was an international law professor (Go Blue!). That constant travel instilled deep within me a particular understanding of “home.” From an early age, that word took on a dual meaning. Amidst the movement and travel home became synonymous with both place and people; wherever we traveled as a family we made a home together, and that home, even if temporary, was defined in large part by those I loved and who loved me as much as a physical location.
As we move towards this second Sunday of Advent, and as I read Joyce Rupp’s poignant words of “homecoming” I invite us all to stop and think about the “homeless” places in us that may be “longing for familiar soil.” Come home Sunday to gather with those who travel with us, making a spiritual home each and every time we gather in God’s name. You are not only welcome and wanted, but together we will make a homecoming as Christ surely intended for us to do in these days leading to his birth in each of our hearts.
May you never forget that you are loved,