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A Christmas Greeting from Rev. Jon Smoot


“And having been warned in a dream not to return to King Herod, the Wise Men
went home by another way.” Mt 2:13

Hot on the heels following the stars, the angels, the shepherds, and the manger, there is in the Christian calendar a season called Epiphany. Its most famous story is that of the 3 Magi from the East, separately summoned by a star so bright it almost burned the retinas of their imaginations. It drew them together to a road toward Jerusalem, where their presumptive GPS led them. They proclaimed to King Herod that they were looking for the Child who was born king of the Jews, and whose star had led them there. Herod was terrified and called in his experts, who said that an obscure text indicated that it was likely Bethlehem. He sent the Wise Men off and ordered them to report back to him with exact details of their visit so that he, too, could pay homage. Herod, of course, fearing competition from another “King”, planned to murder the child.

The star led them to the Child and stopped, and they were overcome with joy. The encounter brought a blazing realization (Epiphany!) that they had left behind at home all they had known before to seek an unknown – and now the blanks were filled. As one writer suggests, the story here matters more than the historical “facts”, even if there were such. The story here is that for whatever reason, the encounter in Bethlehem meant that for these three the old ways, the old maps, the old tapes in their heads, were obsolete and there would have to be a new way “home.”

Our sole mission at Habitat DC-NOVA is to support those families who seek a new way home – a safe and stable home, free from rising rents, and unsafe or overcrowded conditions. Our mission lets families know that they are not stuck where they are, and there is a new way forward for them.

When we listen to our lives, listen to our dreams, listen to trusted friends, listen to the interruptions in our lives that come our way, and listen to reliable guidance from great music or literature, we may find that there is always another, safer way “home”, no matter how stuck we feel we are.

Turns out I am going home by another way as well – retirement at the end of this year! I want to thank you for walking this road with me and with the affiliate’s great work and mission. We have accomplished so much together. And thank you for helping us help hundreds of low-income families to come home by another way, when no matter how hard they tried, it seemed no other way was possible.

On behalf of the great staff team of Habitat DC-NOVA, our Board of Directors, and on behalf of the families we serve, I wish you joyous holidays and the new beginnings of a New Year together making possible another way home for our future partner families.


Rev. Jon Smoot

Co-President & CEO, Habitat DC-NOVA

PS: James Taylor wrote a lovely song about this story with the same title as my message. It ends:

“We can make it another way, safe home as they used to say.
Keep a weather eye to the chart on high and go home another way.”