The pandemic has proven pervasive and invasive. Michigan is again at or near the top of new COVID cases. A lack of cooperation, absurd conspiracy theories and outright lies conspire to thwart the efforts of our health professionals to protect us. And we’re faced with the potential for another dangerous Christmas season. It’s frustrating and downright depressing to think about it.

Our new series, Time to go home, is in some ways a search for “normal” or at least a search for the intersection between tradition and our current reality. The idea of going home for the holidays is a favorite Hallmark movie theme. There is something about familiarity that comforts us. 1

If our memories of home are tainted with trauma, our search looks elsewhere when we feel as though our joy is under siege.

Families, communities, cities, and religious groups have varying ideas for rituals of celebration. And our calendars routinely overlap. Since Asbury Church comes out of Christian orientation, our calendar calls for a time of reflection, celebration, and communal rituals beginning on the last Sunday of November. The insider term is “Advent,” but we’re okay with simply calling this time the holiday season.

Advent captures a sense of anticipation about the future. Traditionally, we choose a theme each week that illuminates that which we’re anticipating. Words like hope, peace, joy, and love show up on banners and posters to remind us of what we’re expecting to find as we celebrate Christmas and beyond.

This year, our plan is to capture the spirit of this particular Christmas in a dramatic role-play that combines our present-day reality with the wonderment of anticipation. Even though the birth of Christ took place over two thousand years ago, we want to share the emotion felt by first-hand witnesses. But we weren’t there, and any attempt we make looking backward is only partial.

We believe that the birth of the Christ child was anticipated for generations and interpret ancient prophecies as predictions of His arrival. Therefore, Advent is also about the promises He made and our anticipation of their fulfillment.

The main character in our role-playing is Mary, and the connection with the biblical character is intentional. Christmas is a big deal for Mary. And each year, she looks forward to time off from work, getting together with family, exchanging gifts, and lots of Christmas gatherings. Last year was a massive disappointment for Mary. This Christmas was supposed to be different.

Mary’s Christmas journey isn’t her’s alone. Along the way, she meets others who, like her, struggle with our present circumstances. Mary also meets a few fascinating characters who try to help her see the joy in every Christmas.

Home is whatever place you feel hope, peace, joy, and love. It is a place where hope never fades entirely out. Home is space, feelings, longing, desires, and wholeness. And so, going home is a journey worth making.

The latest colder weather is bringing more people together indoors. Closer contact with each other, supercharged by new variants of COVID, is driving a resurgence of new infections among the unvaccinated. It’s time to come out of whatever fears or biases keep you from being a part of the solution. Get vaccinated! If you’ve already done your part, thank you, but don’t forget to get your booster.

I pray that you will join us each Sunday morning at 10:30 am. We share our weekly episodes live on our YouTube channel. We go live at 10:30 am. You can find these links along with more information about us, or join our live broadcast on our website at FlintAsbury.org.

Pastor Tommy

1 Katelin Maylum, Tommy McDoniel, and Terrance Williams. “Home for Christmas. Flint, Michigan. © Asbury Church, 2021.