Browsing Pastor's Corner

Home Sweet Home

Apr 3, 2018

A couple of weeks ago when I was walking down Stratfield road…I saw a word scrawled in red paint across the front of a house: demolition. Then a week or so later, it was completely gone except for a crater where once the house stood.

With Holy Week approaching, I could not help but think about the brevities of life. I thought about the many decades that house stood…the multiple families perhaps who resided there and all the memories accumulated over the days, weeks, months and years of living there.  If only those once in-tact walls could speak…what would they say?

I also passed by the house of one of our parishioners who recently passed away…it was vacant and on the front yard…a for sale sign. I know one of the more difficult undertakings for a family is to clean out the house of a deceased love one…so many years of loving, hurting, forgiving, advising, laughing, crying…and then as if none of that had ever occurred…so quickly…demolition or For Sale.

For many, home is (or was) a loving, supportive environment in which to grow up and discover oneself. Most people will have more than one home in a lifetime, and if the original one was unhappy, there is always the opportunity to do better when creating a new home.

Given the strong meanings and emotional associations that home has for us, those who have lost their homes and the things they most valued, or who have never had a proper home in the first place, face psychological impacts and identity crises of massive proportions.

As the song goes be it ever so humble there is no place like home…but if that is true…then why so much moving around in our life-times…and why those constant reminders especially with dying and death, how temporary not only homes are but life is…which begs the question…is there any true and lasting home for us and our restless hearts?

Who better to look to then God Himself who once experienced a homelessness issue, at least by way of King David’s perception: From the Book of Samuel:

The king said to Nathan the prophet, “Here I am living in a house of cedar, but the ark of God dwells in a tent!”  That same night the word of the LORD came to Nathan: 5Go and tell David my servant, Thus says the LORD: Is it you who would build me a house to dwell in?e 6I have never dwelt in a house from the day I brought Israel up from Egypt to this day, but I have been going about in a tent. Moreover, the LORD also declares to you that the LORD will make a house for you.

This evening’s celebration reminds us that not only do we have a longing for a permanent home but God making good on His promise to David, makes good that promise to us by building US that home. Who of us are not familiar with Extreme Make Over the Home Edition?

Each episode features a family that has faced some sort of recent or ongoing hardship such as a natural disaster or a family member with a life-threatening illness, in need of new hope. The show's producers coordinate with a local construction contractor, which then coordinates with various companies in the building trades for a makeover of the family's home.

The house that God provides for us is made of flesh and bone, soul and spirit. It is an extreme make-over of the original house which was in need of desperate repair.  And that is because of the disaster of original sin.  Through sin, the devil had us marked for destruction by scrawling across our infected souls, demolition. 

Then a greater reality intervened, God Himself airing His production on Christmas, when born in a manger is Jesus Christ who from His human flesh and blood would make us over by a construction project called redemption.

We are of course familiar with the Fable of the Three Little Pigs. The lives we create for ourselves without God and without Faith are those structures made of straw and wood…we need something more sturdy and stronger because there are no more ferocious wolves prowling at our doors than Satan, sin, suffering and death.  Jesus tells us what that something is:

Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and buffeted the house. But it did not collapse; it had been set solidly on rock.

The rock that Christ is referring to that will make our lives secure is what we heard tonight: When they looked up they saw that the stone had been rolled back. That is the stone upon which our lives must be built.

As we hear from the Apostles preaching after Pentecost: 10then let this be known to all of you: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. 11

He is ‘the stone you builders rejected, which has become the cornerstone.’ 12Salvation exists in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved

The Incarnation, Passion, Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ is the most extreme make-over ever. That confronted with all the instability in the world but more so in our own bodies as we succumb to the aging process: Jesus speaks to us these endearing Last Supper words:

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If there were not, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? 3* And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back again and take you to myself, so that where I am you also may be.a

Jesus knows the pains of homelessness, having once said: “Foxes have dens and birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man* has nowhere to rest his head.” That is because, when Jesus left the Eternal security and peace of His Father’s Home in Heaven and took the form of a slave, as Saint Paul describes the Incarnation, Jesus immediately became an exile in this world.

The place that Jesus is preparing for us, is made out of our own lives. The focus of Jesus’ entire mission was to reveal God as our Father and save us from the scourge of demolition that sin and death threatened us with.

As Jesus says to His Apostles on the night of the Last Supper:

For the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have come to believe that I came from God. 28I came from the Father and have come into the world. Now I am leaving the world and going back to the Father.”

That longing we have for the permanence of Heaven is a longing for God that Christ has once more placed in our now redeemed human nature. He accomplished this finally and fully when expiring on the Cross He said Father into your hands I commend my Spirit. 

Christ had never been separated from the Father since with Him He shares the same Divine Nature…that Spirit He commends is our Human Spirit now infused with the redemptive power of Himself whose longing always is and now is ours is to be one with the Father and Holy Spirit. As Saint Paul reminds us:

For those who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God.j 15For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you received a spirit of adoption, through which we cry, “Abba,* Father!”k 16The Spirit itself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,l 17and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if only we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.

This is the significance of Easter. Right after the consecration as a family of faith we profess…Christ has died, Christ is risen and Christ will come again. He truly is and has, for in receiving the Holy Eucharist Christ on earth has at last found that place to rest His head, His Heart, His entire body, blood, soul and divinity in the home we have prepared with Him of ourselves. 

The Church then is like Home Depot where we gather the building materials needed to build that home that is meant to last forever. And if not…then Jesus reminds us:

And everyone who listens to these words of mine but does not act on them will be like a fool who built his house on sand. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and buffeted the house. And it collapsed and was completely ruined.”

There is no place like home because there is no Savior like Christ. Happy Easter.

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