I am always amazed at how early retailers begin decorating for Christmas. Last year while walking through a mall, I was surprised in the middle of October to come across a seasonal Christmas shop called "Home for Christmas." The store's merchandise was made up mostly of high-quality crafts and woodworked items that each emphasized the importance of family and home, especially during the holiday season.
While I have serious problems with the commercialization and mass marketing of Christmas, I really can't find fault with the thematic nature of the merchandise in this particular Christmas shop. Who among us doesn't begin thinking of home and family as December 25th draws closer?
As Christmas nears, whole families are reunited for maybe the only time they get together all year. College students leave their studies to return home. Even hospitals are emptied of all non-emergency patients so that families can celebrate Christmas together.
Could it be that during this holy time of year, we are simply acting out some ancient desire to return to our home, to our roots?
Just think of the biblical stories that focus on this. Is it merely coincidence that so much of the biblical narrative of the first Christmas is centered on families? Joseph and his pregnant wife, Mary, travel to Bethlehem, the town of their heritage. Relatives, Mary and Elizabeth, are reunited in joyful praise of God for their miraculous pregnancies. Elizabeth and her husband, Zechariah, look forward to the birth of their son, John. And of course, Mary and Joseph are blessed to give birth to the star of the show, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
This year, may we all enjoy coming home for Christmas to both our individual families and our church families as we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.
Doug Stockton is pastor of Christ United Methodist Church at 301 Wooster St., Marietta. Thoughts of Faith is a weekly column written by various ministers and lay people.