"They shall be mine," says the Lord of hosts. - Malachi 3:17
The need to belong is one of the deepest needs of the human heart.
After Cain murdered his brother Abel, Cain was sentenced to a most tortured life. Cain was sentenced to be a fugitive—a vagabond—a restless wanderer upon the earth. A person who would never again belong anywhere.
Cain's response to his judgement was "My punishment is more than I can bear."
Who can bear going through life with no place to call home? Who can bear the status of being a permanent alien? Who can bear the agony of displacement perpetually?
The children of Israel were engaged in a long quest to belong. They wanted a land to call their own. They wanted a national identity that authentically reflected who they were. And yes, they wanted a God who would claim them and care for them as God's very own.
Israel's quest to belong is everyone's quest.
Every child wants to belong to a parent. Every individual wants to belong to a country. Every loving person wants to belong to a partner and a family. Every believer wants to belong to a faith that affirms and values who he/she is in God.
In this season of Advent, God comes in the flesh to rescue each of us from the 'Lost and Found' of alienation and displacement.
And the further good news is that once we accept God's claim upon us, we can now embrace our claim upon each other. For we are now the family of God.
In God and with each other, we have finally found our dwelling place.
God we thank you for calling us home as your own . . . all together.
Kenneth L. Samuel is Pastor of Victory for the World Church, Stone Mountain, Georgia.