Going home for Christmas is my family tradition. When my brother and I were growing up, our parents took us home to their families in Rhode Island to celebrate. Mom and Dad didn’t stay in their own house for Christmas until Mark and I got married: Our children have grown up going home to Virginia every Christmas.

Wherever you may travel to celebrate – whether it’s from this coast to the other, or from your living room to your dining room, or some distance in between – the journey home for Christmas is meant to be a joyous one. But even at its best, it pales in comparison to the true Christmas journey we all should make – from here to the manger.

That Christmas journey is so easy to take, and yet most of us only get part of the way there. It requires no reservations, but we hem and haw, and wonder if we’re worthy enough to go. It asks us to leave our baggage behind, but we drag it along anyway, sometimes to the point that it stops our progress.

But we must make the trek, allowing the Star to guide us and allowing the hurts of our hearts and minds to fall away as we go. We must push through the noise and the pain and the doubt until we reach the manger.

And once we’re there, we can’t just stand back and admire. We must step forward and embrace the Light. We are called forward, to the manger itself, to place our very hearts in the hands of the tiny Baby within. He is the one who will mend us, empower us, save us. We can make our home in Him and He will dwell in us.

As we enter the home stretch of our Advent walk, let us find the time to be joyous in the journey. Let us set our sights on Him who comes, now and always, to save us. Let us hurry to be where we belong, with the Lord to whom we belong. O come, let us head home.

“Again the heart with rapture glows To greet the holy night, That gave the world its Christmas rose, Its king of love and light.” Pietro Yon, 1917