“But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ.” – Philippians 3:20
It has always been one of my favorite Christmas songs. It’s not a Christian carol that we’ll find in our hymnals or up on our big screen when we’re in church. It’s not about the real meaning of Christmas. But I like it nevertheless. The song is “I’ll Be Home for Christmas.”
The music was composed by Walter Kent, and the lyrics were written by Kim Gannon in 1943. The original version was released that year, sung by Bing Crosby. And it’s still my favorite version.
Did you know the song was originally written to honor soldiers overseas during World War II who longed to be home at Christmastime? It is sung from the point of view of an overseas soldier writing a letter to his family. In the message, he tells his family he will be coming home and to prepare the holiday for him, including requests for “snow,” “mistletoe,” and “presents on the tree.”
The song ends on a melancholy note, with the soldier saying: “I’ll be home for Christmas, if only in my dreams.”
Being at home for Christmas has become a major part of the holiday’s tradition. I’ve never heard anyone say: “I want to be home for President’s Day.” But being home for Christmas has been part of this holiday for a long time.
It has been the central theme for other songs, books, movies, and television shows since Bing first sang that song in 1943. And I think it is a major theme for what Christmas is really all about. Though perhaps not in the way we might think.
Because, isn’t it ironic, that while being home for Christmas is so important to us, not one of the people involved in that first Christmas was at home? Mary and Joseph were traveling from their home in “the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David” (Luke 2:4). They were about 70 miles away from home, which is a long way when you had to travel by foot and donkey.
The shepherds weren’t at home, either. They were at work. We’re told in Luke 2:8: “And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.” They were away from home and their families doing what shepherds do–protecting the sheep.
And what about the wise men? They had traveled a very long way from home. We read in Matthew 2:1-2: “After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, ‘Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.’” Some Bible scholars believe they may have traveled as far as 1,000 miles and taken about 30 days to follow the star to Jesus.
So none of these were home that first Christmas.
But who was furthest away from home?
We find the answer in what has long been my favorite Christmas passage. It is found in one of Paul’s letters. We read in Philippians 2:5-8: “In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!”
Jesus was the furthest from home. He left heaven and came all the way down to earth. He did that to give us the greatest gift ever. Jesus left home to die on a cross for our sins so we could be right with God and spend all eternity with Him in His home–heaven. He came to be our Savior.
If you have never made Jesus your Savior and accepted His gift of salvation, please go and find out how to receive this gift in Meet Jesus.
This is the only way you can have a truly joyous marriage and home–wherever you are.
When Jesus is our Lord, it doesn’t matter where we reside here on earth. For this is not really our home. God assures us of this in Hebrews 13:14: “For here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come.”
Paul put it this way as he waited in prison on an uncertain earthly future in Philippians 3:20: “But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Sabra and I spent many Christmases away from our earthly hometowns, where most of our family lived, because God had called us to serve Him elsewhere. We have many friends and former students who will spend this Christmas far away from home all over the world serving the Lord. But we all know we were (and are) giving Christ the gift He wants–our lives. We are serving Him by telling others about Him and how they can know Him.
Jesus did all of this so He can be in our lives, in our homes, and in our marriages. And so He can be in the lives, homes, and marriages of everyone who comes across our path.
Is Jesus the center of your marriage and home? Are you serving Him and others this Christmas?
Welcome Jesus into your Christmas celebrations this year. Give Him what He desires most as a birthday gift. Accept His gift to you–a wonderful marriage with Him at its core, and service to Him together.
And then–no matter where you are in this world–you’ll be home.
Questions for Discussion
- Read the post together and discuss how God spoke to you through it.
- Are you near your family and friends this Christmas? Thank God for this blessing and discuss how you can bless your loved ones this year – this Christmas season and beyond.
- Are you away from your extended family this year? Discuss how you can still bless your family and friends that you are separated from. Discuss how you can bless the people you are near. That includes neighbors, co-workers, your church family, and others. Remember that is the gift Jesus really wants for His birthday.
- Pray together and ask God to help you welcome Jesus into your lives, your marriage, and your home this Christmas and always. Ask Him to help you make Him the center of everything, and to make your marriage all about Him.
Below is a beautiful song that speaks of Jesus’ amazing gift for us. It is “How Many Kings” by Downhere from the albums Ending Is Beginning and Bethlehem Skyline. May it bless you this Christmas.
Our friends Stephen and Brooksyne Weber wrote a wonderful Christmas teaching. We thought you would be blessed by it. It can be found here: Peace On Earth.
This is the last teaching post from me for this year. We will have a new one soon after 2016 begins. So until then, have a blessed Christmas.
May God bless you in all His wonderful ways,
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.