Photo by Rowan Heuvel on Unsplash

Until I was 30, the longest I had ever lived continuously in the same house was about four years.  Since then, I’ve had a couple of longer stretches.  The longest I’ve called a place “home” was the nine years we lived in a “temporary” apartment while I was completing seminary, trying to sell my business, and hoping to go into full-time ministry.  My sense of “home” has never been rooted in a particular structure.

Instead, my “home” has always been anchored by the relationships which have sustained me.  Subsequently, to be “away from home” and to “return home,” for me, is more about the relative proximity of these relationships.  I suppose this reveals something important about me.  At a minimum, it likely explains my higher tolerance for being transient, and perhaps infected with a fair amount of “wanderlust.”

How about you?  I know there are many who feel blessed by the physical place that has served as your “home.”  And that an undeniable sense of comfort and security has been deeply nurtured by a particular structure and its setting.  Make a list, even just in your head, of the favorite qualities of the place (or like me, the people) you call “home.”  What qualities do they have?  Is there a common thread to them?

Our congregation is reading “Welcome Home(less)” by Alan Graham, the founder of an outreach ministry for the homeless in Austin, TX.  As Graham defines “home,” he borrows the following eight essential characteristics of what it means to be home: [1]

  1. Home is a place of permanence (not just a roof above your head).
  2. Home is a dwelling place (a place made of memories and relationships).
  3. Home is a storied place (lots of laughter and tears).
  4. Home is a resting place (a place you feel safe).
  5. Home is a place of hospitality (where you can welcome others and others can welcome you).
  6. Home is a place of inhabitation (where you nest and settle).
  7. Home is a place of orientation (providing direction to our lives).
  8. Home is a place of affiliation and belonging (a place to gain identity).

How are the qualities of the place you call “home” reflected in this list?  How might our church reflect these same qualities?  I think spending some time wondering about the answers to these questions might just lead us to discern where God is calling us to be. Undoubtedly, understanding our answers will also help us as we build life-giving and transformative relationships around our common sense of “home.”

May God’s hope embrace you today.  -Pastor Peter

Let us pray… Sheltering God, you call us to find our dwelling place in you.  As we take joy and comfort in the places we call home, help your church be a place that offers the same for those without.  Amen.

[1] Brian J. Walsh and Steven Bouma-Prediger, Beyond Homelessness: Christian Faith in a Culture of Displacement (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 2008)