JUser: :_load: Unable to load user with ID: 150

My folks moved around a lot. Of the top of head I’m guessing around a dozen times in my yearly years. Even though I do have homely memories, most of which are when I was around that uncomplicated age that my kids enjoy at present. Two scenes from our village home come to mind of a 1970s childhood. One was hot summers in the garden reading comics and annuals in my wigwam. The second is a snowy Christmas lying in bed on Christmas Eve looking up at the bedroom ceiling and seeing homemade Christmas decorations – a mobile of sweet wrappers glued to a coat hanger- twinkle in the moonlight. Home. Uncomplicated. Peaceful. Lovely. It’s what I long for my children will have. Of course, behind this is a love affair with Devon, England, the 1970s. Homeland. You know the sort of Yippee feeling you get when the sign on the A38 says ‘Welcome to Devon’.

Jesus said, ‘Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.' (John 14.23) A few verses back and we have that piece about the Father’s house having many rooms. God is big hearted, much more so than our tiny imaginations would grant. He wants to become our homeland but it is a free choice. He will not forcible relocated to us to Himself. This invitation is not an imposition.

The community of the faithful, the Church, is called to be a spiritual homeland on earth. When we worship God we open a door into that homeland. That peace that passes all understanding is part of that experience - that indwelling. Holy Communion becomes the taste of paradise. For the newcomer joining such a community is a homecoming. I hear this from time to time people saying “I feel I have come home.” They are talking of not just an ecclesiastical setting but also, and more significantly, the people who make up a church. Here we to have Jesus’ peace. The Jewish people call this Shalom, the deep peace that is restorative, kind, generous, reconciliatory, wholesome. Shalom (and its Arabic equivalent ) is used more than just to say hello or wish someone the absence of war. It is a welcome home. I think this shalom is something all too easy for us to circumnavigate. We can settle for a peace which trivial or surface deep.  In the life of a worshipping community a surface peace means pretending to get along and never really talking about the things that matters.  

Much of the Bible is about this search for the Promised Land, for home. The Hebrews from Abraham onwards are a people restless and on the move. Sometimes they are dispossessed and exiled from home. The kernel of sacred writings are either a preparation for entering the homeland of Zion or longing for the journey to start towards it. In this we are to have sympathy for the stranger, the exile, the migrant and refugee. We are commanded in Leviticus to love them as much as we love ourselves. For we are all strangers, aliens, Christians are citizens of Heaven, and all humans I think are unsettled and have a God-gap in their lives. (Interesting that word ‘unsettled’.)

So let get God to pitch his tent once more in our lives. Let us make sure his home is in us where he becomes the light and the Temple.

Perhaps this quote from C S Lewis is a good point to conclude. “Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of - throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.”