I'll Be Home for Christmas
--Pastor Jamey Nichols
One of the primary ingredients to a heartfelt Christmas season includes music. For me, it’d be hard to get into the “Christmas spirit” without it. In addition to all kinds of random artists and songs, standards I return to year after year include Mannheim Steamroller, Amy Grant, Nat King Cole, Michael Bublé, Frank Sinatra, George Winston, and more. A much loved song that has been covered by many artists is I’ll Be Home for Christmas. Amy Grant’s version begins with the following lyrics:
I’m dreaming tonight of a place I love,
Even more than I usually do
And although I know, it’s a long road back,
I promise you.
I’ll be home for Christmas . . . if only in my dreams.
Now, I didn’t get sentimental missing the old farm where I grew up or reminiscing over deceased friends and relatives as one might expect. No. Rather, I get misty-eyed when I sit quietly and think of Christ our Lord. I connect the song with the impermanence of life on this planet and the eager hope I have for my permanent heavenly home with God.
Funerals for any person make me think of my own impending funeral. It should, after all. And, at nearly every funeral I conduct I mention Ecclesiastes 7:4, “It is better to go to a house of mourning than to a house of feasting because death is the destiny of every man and the living should take it to heart.” Naturally, since I’m among “the living” it stands to reason that I “should take it to heart.” And I do. Every time.
It was several years back in the late days of November that I was conducting a funeral. Shortly afterwards, I heard the beautiful Christmas standard I’ll Be Home for Christmas. In that moment, hearing someone singing about “home” caused me to long for my heavenly home. And then, it hit me. Like a short video clip in my imagination I could see it perfectly. In the year of my own death, there’s my surviving family sitting around the Christmas tree. That occasion will be the first of many Christmases without me present. Together they sit and listen to the old Christmas melody as they realize that I am, in fact, finally “home” for Christmas. Sheesh—I’m feeling the emotion again just typing the words!
It’s not about my family missing me or me missing them. They’re extremely important, but that’s not the point here. I’m talking about something that matters more than my wife, my children, and my grandchildren. I’m talking about being in the presence of the living Christ; the baby in the manger who saved my soul! Being with him for the first time at Christmas is the best kind of “home” for me. All he suffered. All he did for me. All the love and the commitment and the patience and forgiveness. All for me. And, for you, too. What a Christmas that will be! I can’t imagine a better holiday than being face-to-face with the star of the holiday, Jesus the Christ!
I’m dreaming tonight of a place I love. And I will definitely be there this year—if only in my dreams.