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“I feel so broke up, I wanna go home.”
So sang the Beach Boys back in the 1960s, in an upbeat song about feeling miserable on board a ship where things were not good!
What does the word “home” mean for you? For many people it probably means that place where you feel safest and most comfortable. Where you can put on your slippers and truly relax. Where the coffee tastes just how you like it. Where you can truly be yourself.
In writing this, I recognise that for some people there is no place like that. Home has been a place of abuse or there has been a need to flee from home because of war or persecution.
Some Christian writers have reflected that deep in all of us there is a longing for home. Karl Marx was not a Christian, but he explained this as “alienation” – not feeling at home with our work, but I think that although he identified the inner feeling, he got the causes wrong. Some writers say we can trace this feeling back to the beginning, that in the Garden of Eden when sin entered the world Adam and Eve were exiled from home and since then every human being has experienced a deep sense that we belong somewhere, but we’re not sure where it is. The alienation is due to that estrangement from God.
Another definition of home is that it is “where the heart is.” Augustine wrote that “our hearts are restless until they find their rest in you.” We often end the Eucharist with the Prayer After Communion, which says, “Father of all, we give you thanks and praise, that when we were still far off you met us in your Son and brought us home.”
Christians look to someone who left the comfort of his home to come, find us, and take us back to a place where we are fully known and loved for who we are. Before his death, Jesus told his friends, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also.” (John 14:1-3).
There is a true home, waiting for us.
PS: For a fuller exploration of these thoughts, I highly recommend listening to Tim Keller’s sermon “The Longing for Home”, which you can find via Google.
Blessings in Christ
Canon Derek: Diocesan Director of Ordinands and Vocations
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