Where is home for you?
Perhaps I should better ask what is home for you, for home may not be a place; it may be people, a period of your life, a role or even a poem.
Words have great power to evoke our deepest needs and desires as is the case with the Psalms. This notion of “home” means it is one of those words which evoke much longing in us.
For me, when I think of home, I immediately go to memories not of the place I grew up, but of my grandparents’ orchard in the North Island which we visited for several weeks every summer at Christmas. So many good things flowed from those visits, not the least of which was the wonderful welcome we received from my grandparents and the special world which was their home. It became a place of peace, of joy, of adventure and of deep, deep belonging; in short, it became home for me. At Pentecost the Spirit created such a place for the Christian church – it created “home” for the church.
Home is, so they say, “where the heart is” and if this is the case then just about anywhere can be home. I wonder if you’ve ever visited a place and found yourself so taken with it, with the beauty, with the peace, with the atmosphere, that it felt, quite literally, like you’d come home? I believe this is something of what Paul comes to in that amazing passage in 2 Corinthians 5: 6-9:
6 So we are always confident; even though we know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord— 7 for we walk by faith, not by sight. 8Yes, we do have confidence, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. 9 So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him.
Paul here uses the idea of home to redefine heaven as our true place of belonging because it is where the God who loves us is. So, while he recognises our natural connection with this life and, indeed, with our bodily existence he also recognises that despite the strong connection we all have with these things, there is another home that is more desirable and, indeed, more complete – the place where God is.
When the Spirit was poured out in Jerusalem on that first Pentecost of the Christian church not only was the church properly founded, but God created a true home for the followers of Christ. Not a home built of anything material, but a home of deep relationship with God and with each other. Furthermore, it was a home which called and calls us into mission because the whole aim and goal of the Spirit’s presence and power was to proclaim Christ in a manner which could not be denied. How we need this today!
The church’s true home is to be in mission – to be reaching people who are far from God with the amazing power of the Gospel; a power which has healed and held and helped people into the Kingdom of heaven from the beginning.
As we celebrate this event this year let us be mindful again of the relationship between the Spirit and space, for it is Spirit that transforms every space into a place we may call home; a place we can sense God’s welcome and God’s belonging and a place where the welcome of God is extended in power to all who feel and all who are disconnected from their true home which is God’s love.
Moderator of the Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand