Day Twenty Two: Home

2 Samuel 7:1-11,16
Luke 1:46b-55
Romans 16:25-27
Luke 1:26-38

This year was a tumultuous one for my family and I as we sold the house that we had dreamed of, built, and lived in for fifteen years; packed a lifetime of memories into 52 boxes; and immigrated to an unfamiliar land with the hope and the promise that God would go ahead to prepare a place for us ….

In the midst of all the uncertainty and anxiety lay this grace: that we had a home to go to, a place of our own where we would be sheltered and safe while jobs, schools, church, furnishing etc. slowly fell into place.

Home. Our home. From the moment we inserted the key in the lock and opened up a welcome space, all of the unfamiliarities and inconveniences and heartaches suddenly seemed manageable.

Home.

King David had found one in the conquered city of Jerusalem. All settled in, he was suddenly conscious of the fact that while he enjoyed the comfort and protection of his cedar house, the Spirit of the Lord had been residing in a plain tent since the liberation of the Israelites from slavery in the land of Egypt.

Yet even as he ponders building a dignified sanctuary for the Lord, God declares:

“ I shall build you a house.
I who took you from leading sheep to leading my people,
who raised you from a humble shepherd to a conquering king;
I who have been with you and gone before
and granted you victory after victory over your enemies –
I will appoint a place for my people
and ensure that your family and your royal kingdom are permanently ensured”
(2 Samuel 7:11-16, paraphrased).

Home.

A home worthy for a king: the King of Creation, our Prince of Peace.

And so God sent the angel Gabriel to a small village called Nazareth, in Galilee, to a young virgin named Mary who was engaged to be married to a man from David’s line.

And Gabriel appeared to her and said:

“Good morning!
You’re beautiful with God’s beauty,
Beautiful inside and out!
God be with you,”
(Luke 1:28, The Message).

Mary was perplexed – and probably more than a little shaken – to receive such a greeting from this divine messenger.

As we may well be when we realise that God does not want to be housed in an ornate temple that we visit on sacred days or even relegated to the mysterious heights of heavens …

but God chooses to make God’s home with and within us.

God is with us:
settled into the ordinary and the everyday of our routines,
present  for our wonderings and our worryings,
sitting in on our questions and our conversations,
welcoming the visitors to our door
and walking with us through the neighbourhood …

… God is home

… we remember and we celebrate – particularly this night.

Light a candle or leave a light on this night as a symbol of welcome and invitation to God who longs to make home with you.

Day Thirteen: On Track

Psalm 126
Habakkuk 3:2-6
Philippians 3:12-16

Here’s a fact that might stop you dead in your tracks: there are over thirty idioms containing the word “track” (I got side-tracked at thirty so I know there are more than that).

Being from the right side or the wrong side of the tracks doesn’t seem to matter to anyone anymore as long as you are on the fast track back to the right track, or is that the inside track …? I lose track … so let me double back and put you on a more beaten track ….

Today’s text are all about the way we’ve chosen to walk in: the track we’ve taken.

From Psalm 126 which is a song of ascent – a pilgrimage or walking song that the people sang as they journeyed towards the temple of Jerusalem) …

… to Habakkuk’s prayer for God to traverse the old salvation route again put to music (on shigionoth – see chapter 3, verse 1) …

… to Paul’s cheer-leader-like exhortations to press on towards the goal and race to win the prize …

… there resounds through each passage a spirit of victory and energy, a call to keep moving onwards at a steady pace.

“Where are we headed?” you might wonder. “Are we there yet?” Donkey might add (if you don’t get the reference, put Shrek 2 down as a must-see movie).

“Home,” comes the answer.

Home.
Heavenwards.
Towards an eternity with God.

What is your instinctual response to these words? Your gut feeling?

Do you have a picture of what home, heaven, eternity will be like?

And this is the part where many of us back track or jump the track for fear that God might mistake our interest in home or heaven as a sure sign that we’re ready to enter into the eternal mystery that is life in and with and through God.

The truth, for most of us, is that we’re quite content to be living in the here and now – even though life is a little messy at times and the world can be an ugly place – with the idea of “eternity” being a one-day-in-the-future dream rather than the goal to which we’re off and running.

Home.
Heavenwards.
Eternity.

Even an eternity with God can be a terrifying concept for it is so intangible, so unquantifiable, so unknown to we who use sight and sound and taste and touch and smell and time to make sense of our world. Yet to know Christ and to walk with God is to willingly enter into an ancient, eternal way while others tremble and turn away (Habakkuk 3:7).

And entering into that way radically shifts our perspective:

… things that seem so pressing and important if life is as short as we think it is might lose their urgency as our sense of time expands …

…  the unknown mysteries that once terrified and confounded us become signposts to wonder and awe as we walk in faith rather than knowledge …

… death is neither end nor beginning but just another step in our deepening communion with the One who Made and Saves and Sustains us ….

Today, if you can sit with the discomfort, contemplate your mortality.

What songs would you want sung at your funeral? Who would attend? What would you be remembered for? Who would you worry most about?

What do you hope comes next?