“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given.” Isaiah 9:6
I recall a time when a neighbor boy stayed at our home for a sleepover with one of my sons. It was getting late and they were talking a bit loudly, so I approached the bedroom to gently suggest they hold down their voices. As I drew closer to the door, the indistinct clatter of their voices took on clarity. From the recesses of the sleeping bags on the floor I made sense of the discussion that was taking place. They were talking about the things they wanted to ask God when they got to heaven. Fortunately I was wise enough not to interrupt their musings, and returned to my own bed, falling asleep with my own questions rumbling about.
The search is always going on, is it not? It is the search for meaning as we try to make sense of our world and our place in it. In the end it is a search for home, a place where we belong and can stand on firm ground and know we are secure in the embrace of something beyond ourselves. Somehow we sense that God is the place we find ultimate answers, or perhaps better questions leading to reconciliation within our own hearts that can be offered and lived in the world. Two eight-year-old boys displayed that truth of the heart as it came out in bed-time wondering – prayer.
One of the promises of Christmas is that the One in the manger, the Son given to us, is the One who leads us home. At the same time, the Babe in the manger is the sign that God seeks us and has already found us. He becomes the feast in the feed-dish of an ox. Even as we search, we come to a place of realization that all of our searching begins and ends in God. Even as God is, all along the way, St. Augustine reminds us our hearts are restless until we find our rest in God.
So come to the joy and wonder of the search. It is the one in which we are all engaged, whether or not we actively recognize it. Even more, dare to gaze upon the One born in Bethlehem who is the beginning and end of our search. Come to the manger with your questions, your anxieties, your hopes and your dreams, and see our God who visits us in great humility. Hear his words to you, “Welcome home.”