Do you ever just want to go home - that place you feel welcome. The place that is yoga pants and sandals comfortable? The place where even in the mess of living, things are o.k. and there is time and space to process what matters most. There are people who know you, who “get” you, who you feel connected to and a part of. Home is where you feel welcome and heard no matter how long it has been or how much has changed.
I am not naive enough to believe this is the kind of home everyone grew up in or the kind of home everyone experienced. In fact the sense of home for some people may have been with a neighbor down the street, or the classroom of a favorite teacher, the field or gymn of a beloved coach. It may have been grandma’s house, your first apartment, a co-workers house, or the front porch of a stranger. Home is anywhere those feelings of welcome, security, and comfort are found. Home is that place you feel safe, understood, heard, celebrated, and a part of something.
Home is as much a place as it is a feeling as it is an understanding as it is an inner connection as it is an outer offering and sacrifice.
We begin a new sermon series this week called “God@Home.” It seeks to ask questions like how do we experience God at home? What does it look like? How do we practice our faith at home, from home? How do we experience God at home through worship, service, prayer, and creation. This includes how we do church and/or how are we the church at home? How do we keep God the center from home?
As I prepped for today’s message I kept thinking about how it would be one of those comfy, cozy, encouraging, heart-warming kind of messages. One that would be simple, easy to follow, and easy to implement into our life at home.
Here’s the thing. I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t find comfy in the past two weeks in our country. I couldn’t see “cozy” in how people were being treated and treating each other. I couldn’t hear “simple” in the words of hatred and anger being reported, printed, and posted. I couldn’t feel “heart-warming” among the growing tension, pain, and unrest.
I couldn’t help but wonder where is home in the midst of all that? Where is that sense of home when such events unfold in our country and around the world. How are we, the church; we who love and follow Jesus, we who should know better, how are we to be, provide, and work toward a sense of home with such racial tension, political controversy, and economic strain? Not to mention we are still in the middle of a pandemic that has taken over 100,000 lives.
Two weeks ago, we celebrated Pentecost. The moment by which God’s Holy Spirit fell upon the apostles and the lives of thousands of Jewish believers from all over the known world, who were gathered for the Feast of Weeks, were changed forever. They all spoke different languages; wore different clothes; Their cultural nuances varied; Their religious practices were different from region to region.
It was a moment when people who looked different, talked different, ate different, learned different, and were raised differently, came together by the power and presence of the Holy Spirit. It was the moment that shaped the very beginning of the church and it did not consist of a bunch of like minded, equal status, same sided, culturally similar people. If it can happen then, it can happen now and that is what I put my hope in.
It is past time for the church - to stand as the Spirit-filled Pentecost people of God we keep saying we are and do something about the injustices we see and inequalities we know are there.
It is past time to “...act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8 It is past time to “love your neighbor as yourself.” Matt. It is past time to “live in unity as one body with many parts.” Corinthians
It is possible. It is doable. It is attainable. It is within our reach because Jesus showed us how. Jesus gave us the words. Jesus taught us what to do. The first followers did it. Communities throughout history did it. We can do it too if we 1. Choose to do it, 2. Commit to do it, and 3. Stick to doing it for the long haul.
Just like I am not naive enough to believe everyone had that safe, comforting, accepting, and loving home I spoke of at the beginning of this devotion, neither am I naive enough to believe that what I am saying is easy. It isn’t easy. It is scary. It involves risk. It’s uncomfortable. It is tiring work. It’s hard.
But what is harder and more uncomfortable - making the effort to follow Jesus fully or living in a world where fear makes the rules, the powerful seem to win, and injustice against the marginalized is accepted? How is God at home when people live with those thoughts and fears? How is God at home when God’s children are hurting and we do nothing. Yes, what we are talking about is hard.
Notice those early followers - those transformed at the moment of Pentecost. They eventually had to go back home. They had to take God home with them. And to do so, they were taught ways to be community once they returned. They prayed together, ate together, worshiped together, and reached out to others together. These practices provided a sense of home - a sense of God at home. They instilled in those who followed them an understanding that God at home is bigger than the four walls you live in.
God at home is about establishing routines like prayer, worship, service, and fellowship that keep us grounded in what matters most. It is about doing things that create community, acceptance, and security. It is about finding ways to sustain that sense of unity, encouragement, and growth. God at home is about being a place and a people of hope and unity in a world hell bent on keeping us divided.
In the days ahead, may we be filled by the Holy Spirit with a boldness, understanding and desire to do and be better. May we be filled with courage to speak out against injustice; may we be filled with the wisdom to know when and how to go about it, and may we be filled with the humility to NOT make it about anything but the love of Jesus.
Pastor Jenothy Irvine