This Is My House, This Is My Home Part 2

This Is My House, This Is My Home

Part 2- What is ‘Home’ in the context of Church

“The ache for home lives in all of us, the safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.”  Maya Angelou

This quest or ache for home comes from the fact that in the very beginning, in Genesis, mankind was ‘Home’ in the Garden of Eden.  We were in perfect union with God and walked freely with Him, able to be completely ourselves.

But, as we all know, Eve ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, which began our separation from God, from our family, and home.  What I never really understood until recently, is how Adam and Eve’s expulsion from the garden wasn’t an act of anger from a raging father, but more an act of protection and mercy.

Eve ate from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, which separated them from God.  But there was also a Tree of Life.  If after eating of the tree of good & evil Adam and Eve had then been allowed to eat from Tree of Life, they would have stayed in the garden and been separated from God forever.  Eternal separation.  God however, by expelling them, was protecting them from eating from the second tree, and in doing so was saying; ‘don’t worry, I am coming after you’.  God then killed the animal and sewed their clothes together; this was an act of love, from a God of love.

The separation we face from God is often known as ‘The Great Divorce’.  It is a picture of loved ones torn apart.  When mankind fell, God didn’t just react to Satan and try to fix it.  He had already slain the lamb before the foundation of the world (Rev 13:8).  He already had a rescue plan in place before they even needed it.  The whole narrative of the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, is the story of God pursuing mankind, and trying to bring them back home, after their tragic choice to move away from dependence on Him.  It is a long, love story.

 

 

“God is at home, it’s we who have gone out for a walk.”  Meister Eckhart

 

I love the story of the Prodigal Son.  The fact that he had messed up so much, was broken, poor, had severed all relationships, yet his father, when he sees him coming, RUNS towards him, embraces him, and throws him a huge feast.  This is how God feels when we come back to Him, and the Bible says there is a huge party in Heaven when people remember where there home is, who their family is, and come back into relationship with Jesus.

I believe that throughout my life, God has been actively pursuing me, and trying to bring me back home- into relationship with Him, and into His family the Church.  I love the fact that my church Hillsong Church (Leatherhead) put such an emphasis on the idea of coming home.  As you enter into church there are big signs saying ‘Welcome Home’ because they want people to feel like they are coming back to be with family, and for people who don’t yet know God; to find their way back to their spiritual home.

 

 

Home is supposed to be a safe haven.  A place of security, well-being, family.  A place to be cared for.  Where strangers are always welcome.  I love that my family’s home is like this.  And I love that Church is like this.  It is a place where you should see hope.  A place where you can fulfil your God given potential, be fed, encouraged, and grown.  A place where you can be completely yourself, no matter how broken you may look or feel.  Home and Church should be a place where there is unconditional love and forgiveness.  A tangible place that people are drawn to because of the love of Jesus that is there.  I know this is true of my church, my family’s home and of any good home.  Home is a place you should be able to un-mask, and be exactly who God made you to be.

The things that we have in our homes, the ornaments, furniture, and décor often say a lot about us.  The things that we put in our homes, often show what we think is most important.  For example some people have giant homes with many cars to show their wealth.  Our surroundings influence our thoughts and shape our identity.  This is true of the people and things we surround ourselves with.  We should try and place ourselves in a Church family where you can be fully yourself, but also be around things and people who show who you might ideally be.  So that you can grow more into the likeness of Jesus, surround yourself with Jesus like leaders.  One thing I LOVE most about my church is not the worship, teaching (all of which are excellent) but the sense of family, and mostly the heart for others.  They live beyond themselves.  My church is dedicated to giving back, and support many amazing charities, which I love.  This is the kind of person I want to be; someone who is blessed to be a blessing.

http://www.hillsong.co.uk/makepovertyhistory

God has put eternity in our hearts.  Our home should be a place that reminds people of that, and shows them, who they are, who they belong to, and what their inheritance is!  It should un-ashamedly show people who Jesus is, and lead them to him.  Church and Home should have an open door to those who don’t yet know Him.  It is not an elite club, but a place where all are welcome.  Where all can see Him and be drawn to Him.

You only have to watch the news for 5 minutes to see that we live in a broken, fatherless, lost generation.  Events such as the London riots show that there are so many living day to day with no hope and no sense of future.  I know I used to be the same!  But Jesus is the Hope for Humanity.  He offers transformation for the broken, inheritance for his children, healing for the hurting, family for the lonely, undeserved and scandalous grace and favour.  Jesus wants to embrace the lost.  And He wants his Church to do the same.  To remind people of who they are, where they have come from, who their Maker is, and the value that is upon them.  He wants wandering hearts to come home and to be free.

 

 

I pray that I never stop putting Jesus at the centre of what I call ‘Home’.  Whether it is my church life, my work, my family, my friendships, my future relationships- my Home should be in Him, and I should be drawing people into His Home and His family, until the day we all return to our eternal home.

 

“My home is in Heaven. I’m just traveling through this world.”  Billy Graham

 

Ephesians 2:19-22 The Message (MSG)

 19-22That’s plain enough, isn’t it? You’re no longer wandering exiles. This kingdom of faith is now your home country. You’re no longer strangers or outsiders. You belong here, with as much right to the name Christian as anyone. God is building a home. He’s using us all—irrespective of how we got here—in what he is building. He used the apostles and prophets for the foundation. Now he’s using you, fitting you in brick by brick, stone by stone, with Christ Jesus as the cornerstone that holds all the parts together. We see it taking shape day after day—a holy temple built by God, all of us built into it, a temple in which God is quite at home.

 

Advertisements

This Is My House, This Is My Home Part 1

This Is My House, This Is My Home

Part 1- What is ‘Home’?

“Love begins at home, and it is not how much we do… but how much love we put in that action. ”  Mother Theresa

At the moment, my housemates & I are in the process of looking for a new house to rent. We have found a new house nearby, and are just in the referencing stage.   It’s an exciting time in some ways as it offers new opportunities, and a fresh start.  But it can also be really stressful because it requires you to re-define what “home” is, and to create a new home in an unknown place.

This move, along with a wonderful blog from my friend Sabine  (http://sabineamy.wordpress.com/2012/02/10/home-is-where-the-heart-is/), and the ‘Vision’ put forward by my Church (Hillsong) recently, got me thinking again about what home is?

In the last 6 years I have moved house 9 times!!  That’s more than once a year.  I have lived with family, with friends, in little rooms, in big rooms, in Derbyshire, in Cheshire, in London, and in Surrey.  I don’t mind moving house, but it does up-root you in a way little else does.  I have moved because I needed to and because I wanted to.  I have moved for convenience, for clarity, for necessity and for opportunity.

Recently I watched an episode of one of my favourite programmes One Tree Hill.  In it the characters discuss their home- Tree Hill, and what makes it so wonderful.  They reminisce on all that has happened there, how they grew up, fell in love, got jobs, and had families all within the context of this magical place they call home.  For them, no matter where else they go; Tree Hill will always be their home.

When you ‘Google’ home you get a lot of images of houses, but are they really homes?  Or does home conjure up more of an image of family, sanctuary, or something very different for you?

Now, for me, to be honest, ‘Home’ is a very interesting subject…

When I was 7 my half brother committed suicide and even at that age it changed me forever. My parents divorced and ‘home’ changed completely.

At one stage I was in emergency foster care then went to stay with a friend from school and had a new ‘home’ for a week.

Age 13 in my 2nd year of high school ‘home’ became a women’s refuge, for over a year, which seemed lifetimes away from where I grew up.

‘Home’ was next a council estate which has the least ‘homely’ place I ever knew.  It was a place, and situations that filled me with darkness and dread.  My only joy- a little cherry blossom tree outside.

One day in the summer when I was 15, home changed in a way I could never have anticipated.  I was put into foster care.  I was given a few moments to pack up my thing then taken to a new family, a new house, a new home. A strange family, a strange house, a strange home.   I didn’t know how long I would be there for or how life would change.

I say all this not to be dramatic, but to paint a picture.  For some people the concept of home is reasonable straight forward.  A house, a family, security, comfort.  For others it is a very different thing.  And for many, it is often changing as life progresses.

Over time, my idea of home changed irrevocably.  As I experienced the love of my new family, including boundaries, discipline, grace, and forgiveness, my understanding changed.  As I began to learn about Jesus, how he is my saviour, friend, father, comforter, protector, and family, my understanding of family and home again was dramatically re-defined.  I don’t think I could begin to even describe the process, or how my mind was blown by the understanding of God’s love and grace, and how that was put into action by my foster family.  And I definitely cannot explain, through all the changes and complexities, how a group of people, from such different backgrounds, understandings, and lives, were drawn together to become a family!

But that is what is so amazing about Jesus.  And that is what is so amazing about ‘Church’.  That a group of lonely, broken, incomplete people can become a whole, strong, loving, inseparable family.

And that is what my family have become to me.  That is what ‘home’ is now to me.  It has become a place of safety, comfort, love, security, hope, care, acceptance, forgiveness, freedom, and belonging.  And all because my foster parents, and sisters decided to lay down their lives for others, to give of themselves, to overflow with grace, and to be every single day, in every practical way, ‘Home’ and family to others.

And trust me, it was a challenge on all parts, but a challenge worth fighting for.

Home is a total sanctuary for me because of the love that pours out from my family  ❤

I will say, as a side note, that if you are a Christian, and you have never considered fostering or adopting, please do.  I know that it is not for everyone, and it is a challenge.  But if you have the love of Jesus in your hearts, and you want a practical, real, every day way of showing that love; you could literally transform a child’s life, and show them Jesus, by bringing them into your home.  There are thousands of children in the UK who have no idea of what ‘Home’ is, and what it means to be in a family.  You could show them.  I believe that it is an incredible evangelism, and God has put it on my heart, that as I was saved by my foster family in so many ways, how incredible would it be for me to do the same for other children who don’t yet know him…

Psalm 68:5-6 New Living Translation (NLT)

Father to the fatherless, defender of widows—
    this is God, whose dwelling is holy.
God places the lonely in families;
    he sets the prisoners free and gives them joy.
But he makes the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land.