Sunday Services at 10:00am
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“When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father's hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.’ So he got up and went to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let's have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.” (Luke 15:17-24)
If you are have been around evangelical Christianity any length of time, or ever listened to Billy Graham, you are familiar with what has come to be known as “The Sinner’s Prayer,” which goes something like this:
“Dear Lord Jesus, I know that I am a sinner, and I ask for your forgiveness. I believe you died for my sins and rose from the dead. I turn from my sins and invite you to come into my heart and life. I want to trust and follow you as my Lord and Savior. In your name, Amen.”
The prayer I uttered on the day I came to faith in Jesus in September 1994 was a little different. I remember kneeling by my bed in my dorm room at UConn and saying, “God, I know where I belong, and it’s with you.” While that prayer was not a theological masterpiece, in that there was nothing in there about sin or repentance, the heart of the prayer reflected a young man who desired to come home to the place he knew he belonged – a relationship with God. Like the prodigal son in Luke 15, I had turned from my self-centered way of living to come home to my Father.
One of the themes of Christmas is coming home from exile. As we’ve been looking at Isaiah’s prophecies about the Messiah on Sundays, we’ve seen how the exile of the Israelites in Babylon points to the greater exile that the whole human race is experiencing, our separation from God because of our sin. Because of our exile, we live in a world that does not feel like home. We see terrible suffering in the world around us, and for many of us, our lives are continually marked by suffering as well. Every time we experience an untimely death, we know deep down that it is wrong, that it was not meant to be that way. Like a stranger in a foreign land, we know in our heart that this world does not reflect the peace, love, security, and comfort that home should provide. As C.S. Lewis wrote, “If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.”
The good news of Christmas is that a way has been opened for us to come home. God has come to earth, and through the life and death of Jesus, forgiveness of sins is offered to us, as well as the opportunity to come back to our true home – a relationship with God. While 18 year-old Eric might not have understood all about sin, repentance, and forgiveness of sins, he knew that much – to come to God is to come home, to find that place of everlasting peace, love, security, and comfort that this world can never provide. In this world, we can know that home in our relationship with God to a limited extent; in eternity we will know it completely.
Many of you have a deep longing for home. Perhaps you long for a family, for a spouse or children that you do not have. Maybe you long for a house that you have chosen, that fits your personality and feels right, instead of the apartment or house in which you live. Maybe you long to return to another state or country that feels like home to you, instead of living in your current situation. Or maybe you have the family, and you have the house, but you still long for the comfort and security that even the best things in this world can not give you.
This Christmas, remember that Jesus came to offer you a true home, a place of everlasting peace, love, security, and comfort in a relationship with God. All who are in exile due to their sins have been offered forgiveness of sins and the chance to come home. Find your true home in Him this Christmas.
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