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.
That's what happened to Jesus the first time. Do you suppose that's why it's taking him so long to come back a second time? If you think about it, the human race is like one big dysfunctional family. Can you imagine how uncomfortable Christ would be around our global Thanksgiving table? Half of us would be hoarding the turkey and stuffing. The other half would be starving. Late arrivals would find the gate locked, and they would have to be background checked before we let them in the front door. As soon as they were seated, someone would start talking politics or religion and we would all get out our sharp knives. Everyone would start yelling at once; no one would listen. Our poor host and hostess, try as they might, would not be able to get our attention. They would sit there, sobbing into their sweet potatoes, while the kids would run and hide in the kitchen. If the world were a dinner table, I'm afraid that's what Jesus would come home to.