When I was in kindergarten, my parents bought a home in a neighborhood in the very southeast corner of Memphis, Tennessee. The room I moved into that year I finally moved out of when I was 22; after bouncing around from dorm and rental properties, I spent my senior year at the University of Memphis staying with my parents to save up money before graduation. The following summer as I packed up my belongings to move to Fort Worth, Texas, to start seminary, my parents packed up their stuff as well and moved to a new house outside of the city. They had long dreamed of life without nearby neighbors, and my mom of more space to garden, and that summer they moved into a place with plenty of property, becoming residents of a rural neighborhood in north Mississippi. It’s the perfect home for them, and though I complain about the 45 minute drive into the city where many of my friends still live, I look forward each trip back to Memphis to the time out in the country and to see what newest projects my parents have been up to around the house.

It is still weird, though, to recognize that my childhood home is no longer; at the same time, going home to a different house has created for me a more expansive understanding of what “home” is. When I think about “home” now, I think about a variety of things: my mom’s cooking, my cat sleeping through another slow morning, stacks of books and papers, different dining room tables, couches on which I’ve spent hours with friends, and so much more. These images take place in a variety of houses: ones I’ve moved out of, the place I live now, and the many houses of friends that were more “home” to me than my own residences in different seasons of life.

What do you think about when you think about “home”? During Advent, we look forward to Christ’s birth and the promise that God will make God’s home with us. We remember that God’s home is more than a building or a single body; instead, Emmanuel, God-with-us, floods this world with their presence, and that the home of God’s love is something that can never be walled away but is offered to all people in all moments. This year, though we have spent so much more time at home, we have been challenged by rapid changes in our world and may struggle to see where God is and what God is up to in the midst of everything. Where may God be making a new home with and around you this Advent?