Wednesday, 08 December 2021

Suitcase-dwellers will find home in Christ

LIVING out of a suitcase can be fun for a while, but it has its limits.

LIVING out of a suitcase can be fun for a while, but it has its limits.

Holidays are great and the sun, sea and sand on offer in advertisements right now can do us good.

But when the supply of socks runs low, along with the money, then it’s time to come home, where one can be comfortable.

Three sets of suitcase-dwellers were highly prominent in December.

First Tim Peake and his fellow international space station dwellers.

This has to be the ultimate living-out-of-a-suitcase experience, out there in the most hostile environment possible with the support of almost miraculous technology.

Their work is an inspiring feat, revealing both the possibilities and (current) limitations of technology because they will have to come home eventually, to the world for which they are made.

Less inspiring, perhaps, and more disturbing were the suitcase-dwellers flooding into Europe. Many of these migrants are fleeing from war and persecution.

I saw many of them in Hungary over the summer, mostly young men facing a possible lifetime of living in a hostile environment away from home. Many of them would be glad of the luxury of a suitcase.

Most of us are torn between wanting to be compassionate and wanting to be tough, while the situation is complex in ways which make most of our well-meant efforts in either direction seem ineffectual.

There are limits to the grip that politicians and negotiators can get on situations where wickedness and blind malice have the upper hand.

Then there are Mary, Joseph and Jesus — not migrants but at one level just ordinary people pushed about by the powerful for their own geo-political and financial ends.

At another, deeper, level we see Jesus living away from home, coming from heaven to earth into a hostile environment, facing the worst that blind malice, religious wickedness and limited, timorous politicians could inflict on him, and bearing it with grace while showing us what love truly means.

His promise is that if we trust him, if we follow him, then whatever happens, when life takes away even our suitcase and when life itself runs out, we will find a home with him which will last forever.

“Only where he was homeless are you and I at home.” (G K Chesterton, The House of Christmas).

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