It’s that time when the giving of thanks leans into the giving of Christmas. If for you that means gift-buying dread, travel concerns, or awkward parties, I’d like to offer you something that might freshen and deepen your thoughts about Christmas.
G.K. Chesterton was a dominating British writer in the early 20th century. He was a journalist, art critic, crime novelist, and defender of the Christian faith. T.S. Elliot described his poetry as “first-rate journalistic balladry” having observed a connection to common themes of life.
Among his many works we find a Christmas poem. In it, which I only excerpt below due to brevity’s demands, he explores homecomings. Before reading, it helps to settle into the soft memories of your own sweet homecomings, such as that time, amidst the world’s rudeness and triviality, you escaped back to family to recover some peace. It was a time of rest and a place of belonging with loved ones, good memories, and the blessing of Mom’s cooking! From “The House of Christmas”:
There fared a mother driven forth, out of an inn to roam;
In the place where she was homeless, all men are at home.
Here we have battle and blazing eyes,
And chance and honor and high surprise,
But our homes are under miraculous skies
Where the yule tale was begun.
A Child in a foul stable where the beasts feed and foam,
Only where He was homeless are you and I at home.
To an open house in the evening, Home shall men come,
To an older place than Eden and a taller town than Rome.
To the end of the way of the wandering star,
To the things that cannot be and that are,
To the place where God was homeless and all men are at home.
Chesterton connects the idea of home to that great mystery of God’s coming in the flesh, not to house or inn, but a foul stable of beasts. Yet in that non-home, we find the home that a searching soul longs for. Looking into that scene, we see that God reveals His love as an Innocent who would take away our sins. At once, Bethlehem acknowledges the battle and blazing harshness of life, but offers an open door, a journey’s end, and eternity’s miracle. “Come to me,” Jesus said, “and I will give you rest,” an invitation to come home.
Chesterton once said that “joy is the gigantic secret of the Christian.” As the angel expressed to the shepherds, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people.” In today’s fearful world, we need good news and great joy, a Christmas gift meant for you.