homecoming

It was a Kleenex moment in the Christmas season, for sure.

Like the first Christmas, there was a newborn baby involved. But no manger. How about a Jumbotron screen at an Anaheim Ducks hockey game, of all places?

Sergeant First Class Robert Vandenberg had been gone for ten months. He'd never seen his newborn son. He was far away in Afghanistan when little Travis was born. So all eyes were on the big screen when he appeared to - at least in this small way - be "home" for Christmas.

Skype from Romania. That's how his wife, his one-year-old son and little Travis would make a connection this Christmas season.

But with thousands watching this touching reunion, the technology Grinch suddenly showed up. There was barely time for "hellos" before the sergeant started disappearing in a spasm of static. Sadly, his wife handed the mic over to a team rep.

At that very moment, Sergeant Vandenberg walked down the steps of the arena and right into the arms of his wife!

Then he picked up his new son and held him up in front of him - looking in his eyes for the very first time.

I don't know if they sell Kleenex at the stadium concession stands - but if they do, you can bet they sold out that night. I confess I reached for some when I saw it on TV.

I think one of the reasons it touched me is that I saw something else in that moving reunion. I saw the first Christmas. And myself.

Christmas - when a God we thought was so far away came down to where we are. To hold us close.

In fact, the ancient prophecy of the coming Messiah said, "A virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel - which means, 'God with us.'"

Not just God projected on the screen of some church or religion. But God right here. God up close.

Too often, though, He's seemed far away. Like there's a lot of distance between me and the God I really need. It turns out that distance is not just a feeling. It's real. But it's not God's fault. It's mine.

Let's face it - I've wanted to believe in God, but I've run my own life. In essence, occupying the driver's seat in a life He gave me. We have, in the words of the Bible, "left God's path to follow our own." At great cost. "Your sins have cut you off from God," the Book says.

Actually, I knew that. I think we all can feel the distance.

But then...Christmas.

As Linus so eloquently quoted to Charlie Brown, "For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord."

In that stable in Bethlehem, God stepped out of eternity and into time. So He could step into my life and change it forever.

Not God as a fuzzy image. Not God far away.

God with us. With me. In my home. In my office. In the doctor's office. In my grief. In my loneliness. In my pain. In "the valley of the shadow of death."

But it would come at great expense. To Jesus. Because 33 years later, the hands of the Bethlehem baby would be nailed to a Roman cross.

So God could be my Father.

And I could be the son in His arms.

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Ron Hutchcraft Ministries
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Harrison, AR 72602-0400

(870) 741-3300
(877) 741-1200 (toll-free)
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