The truth is that the true light will never be seen in one of those light-infused homes in a Thomas Kinkade painting, because no one lives there, least of all Kinkade himself... The Good News of Christmas is that the true light is coming...into our homes, with all of our cracked windows, dirty closets and dishes piling up in the sink. The true light is coming into our lives, with all our broken promises, festering wounds and bags of guilt and regret cluttering up the hallway. But the good news is that we don't need picture-perfect lives, where the darkness in us is painted away with dabs of false light. We can face and embrace the darkness because the true light is coming.
God loves Christmas even more than we do, not because of the merry-making, the gift giving, or the caroling. Christmas gives God joy because in this season, we make more of an effort to love as Mother Mary does, by caretaking and homemaking. Every day in the newspaper, there's another story of some person or organization that our community is caring for. And every Monday, we gather here to plan how we can make a home for a few vulnerable people this winter.
Wenceslas is the archetype of the good king, the one we are always looking for, and the one I'm afraid we will never get to vote for. But we don't need to. We already have a good Lord and we are already learning to walk in his footsteps. And that makes our own journeys so much easier. Nineteenth-century critics of this carol complained that the tune, which was originally for a song about spring, was too upbeat and joyful for such a somber theme. But those critics don't know what we know about becoming friends with the poor on the journey. When we reach out to help them get home, it is a joy. When we bring them along, we can't help but break out in song.
But whatever kind of home we were born into, by now, we all live in the same landscape. The wilderness that John is in is the life that we all live in. And the quickest way to make our way home to God and one of the best ways we can prepare for God's come home to us is for us to make a way home for others. It's in the work of leading others home that we discover that we're already there. But if we string up the barbed wire, if we put up roadblocks so that others can't make it safely home, neither can God, neither can we.