Note: For the four weeks of Advent, this blog will highlight one scripture from the Revised Common Lectionary Year C for each week. A discipline for the week will be suggested. It is in intended the discipline will fit into your daily life and utilize resources you already have on hand. I look forward to sharing this journey with you.

While driving from store to store for Christmas shopping, I listened to Karen Carpenter’s “There’s No Place like Home for the Holidays.” As I was humming along with her melodic voice, I recalled the passage I had read that morning in Zephaniah, “I will bring you home.” Connecting the music and the text, I started listening to the many references to home as related to the holidays. On Facebook, college and graduate students are posting, “I am on my way home for Christmas!” School children are counting down the days until they can be home for Christmas break. My hair stylist, medical doctor, and pastor all asked, “Are you traveling home for Christmas?” Home and holidays are intimately interconnected for most people.

Yet home can be difficult to define. The writer of Zephaniah describes home as “gathered to God.” He proclaims, “I (God) will bring you home. I will gather you.” Coming home is being with God. Maya Angelou describes home another way, “The ache for home lives in all of us, the safe place where we can go and not be questioned.”  For both writers, home is a safe place where we are gathered and welcomed.

Often we think of home as the place where we grew up or the place where our family of origin lives. But this holiday, I want to explore a broader sense of home. I want us to look for the places where we feel gathered to God and for the places where we feel like we are accepted for whom we are. I want us to collect these moments of home and hold onto them. To do so, cut a one inch strip from a sheet of copy paper. Write, “I am gathered home.” Then, draw a musical note on the strip each time you recognize being at home. Keep the strip in your planner or use as a bookmark. Remember to add your notes of home.

At the conclusion of the third week of Advent, offer a prayer of thanksgiving for all the places you felt at home and remember the home where you will attend Christmas festivities. Pray that you will offer a sense of home to those with whom you gather.

Home can be elusive because we think of it as a set place. Yet, home can be all around us if we anticipate being gathered and welcomed.

Tammy Abee Blom is an ordained Baptist minister, regular contributor to BWIM’s blog, mother of two amazing daughters, teacher for children’s Sunday School, and lives in Columbia, South Carolina.