For the past seven years I have been what I suppose you could call “Short term living.” I have not lived in the same place for over a year in these past seven years. I have slept on so many different beds, sofas, floors, and air mattresses. I have slept over night in many eclectic places including maids quarters, offices, church basements, air planes, buses, and even a table at the train station. I have moved near and far using suitcases for some transports, boxes for others, and grocery sacks for the more questionable and close by stays. I have crammed as much as I could into my car for stateside moves and pushed the weight limits with American Airline. As of February I will break down the boxes, hand over the keys to my car, burn every plastic bag I own, and hopefully put up the suitcases for a good while.
Anyone who has traveled and lived out of suitcases knows how exhausting it can be to not feel as though you can lay down roots. There is a constant longing to just be home and to know that one day you wont have to pack a suitcase once a week, pack boxes every six months, reevaluate what should be held onto and what should be thrown away. You long for a day when you no longer will have to haul things from airport to airport, bus station to bus station, country to country, state to state.
After more than seven years of sojourning from my fathers home I will have a place to truly call home. Home for me was never a place, It was more an idea surrounding a place. A home is a place surrounded in love warmth and belonging. A place that is nurtured and cared for of your own efforts. A place where your family stays and a place where your family is surrounded in a sense of security. Home is where kids want to go after a day at school, a weekend at grandmas, or a day out with friends because they know it is a safe place for them to lay down their heads and to be cared for, it is a sanctuary. That is something I have always felt in going to my home congregation in Papillon Nebraska. I am thrilled and delighted that my journey continues out of that home as I will walk down the isle in February and be joined to the love of my life before God and my church family.
I wonder if this is what God would have us find in His house; a home. For this past year I have been struggling in the new place of service I have been put. It is not my home, I feel as though I had been taken from family and friends of my earlier place of service and I felt as though I had been abandoned in a place that was the furthest thing from home I have known. I am not just speaking of the location of my ‘house” I include the church in this description of home. People were not as inviting as in my earlier location, the struggles were bigger, the challenges harder, and the situation more lonely. I slipped in and out of depression and longed every day for any other place other than the place I was in. After a long bout of this a still small voice came to me and said; “You get to practice being a mother.” I have always wanted to be a mother. I want my own children, but it took me a bit to understand what “mother” in this context meant. For me, it meant fostering and nurturing relationships with people who weren't exactly pulling me close. It meant caring for a people who would not identify me necessarily as family. It meant worrying for a people’s spiritual growth who had become stagnant and luke warm to the faith. It meant going where I didn’t want to go and showing them what I had always been shown by the members of First Lutheran church.
Now, with almost one year (ALMOST), we are beginning to be family. I am beginning to understand better that to be “mother” is more than taking on a title and caring for cute littles. It is a task of endurance, perseverance. It is messy, not at all glamorous, it is thankless, it is uncertain as to if you are ever doing a “good job” it is draining and it is the most rewarding task in which you can apply yourself. At the end of the day, when I see my students leave class with more joy and assurance that they are in church to receive good things from a loving God, then that is thanks and reward enough. When I see them start to understand that this is their home where they can feel secure and safe, and loved, then I know God is working to bring unity, faith, and fellowship in His family. I believe that Church was meant to be family. We were meant to know that sense of sanctuary and stability wherever we unite to hear the word of God and to receive Christ’s body and blood. I doubted that I would see the day where the people where I serve would break forth from a stagnant luke warm faith that comes to church out of obligation as opposed to desire. I now know God has equipped me to to be a part of that transformation. He showed me in the home He gave me what it looks like so I could share that vision with the people here. I thank God for the opportunity to know and share what it means for a Church to be a home, especially in this advent season as we reflect on what it meant for Christ to leave his heavenly home to take on flesh and blood. I pray you all have a blessed advent season!