2 Peter 3:13 We are looking forward to a new heavens and a new earth, the home of righteousness.
In recent months, we’ve been having a congregational conversation about houses and homes, due to my idea of possibly selling our home in Watertown, purchasing a home here, and moving out of the parsonage. Your encouragement in the congregation has been a great blessing during this time. I am glad this has been a happy discussion for many in the congregation.
That being said, the whole process of getting to the point where we will actually move this first week of October has had a lot of twists and turns, “unexpecteds” as some call them these days. The “homing instinct” is a powerful one, one that I think the Lord may have wired into us. It gave us strength to endure all the twists and turns. All of this has been exhausting for me and the family personally, but it’s a good sort of exhaustion.
It comes at a time when I am working with the largest number of prospective members in my time here as your pastor. Indeed, I think it’s the largest number I’ve ever worked with. Quite a number of people, it seems, have a similar instinct to make a church “home” here at St. John’s. My conversations with these people have been an absolute joy. While preaching and worship come to the fore in a lot of these discussions, the most wonderful thing I hear from them I must share with you: I hear quite often these days about how they feel welcomed on Sundays by all of you. While I could argue that preaching and worship might be more important in some ways, it’s that last compliment to all of you that makes me the happiest of all. St. John’s, as a congregation, is doing a good job these days of making others feel at home. And your love and support in this conversation to me personally is also proof of that.
Some have said that one way to look at the Good News is to see it as the story of a God who wanted to provide a quality home for His people. Eden was precisely that sort of quality home before the Fall, a paradise which God had given to His human creation. Since the Fall, God promised a Messiah and in Christ, He has begun the work of restoring His creation. He has given us a hope which sees beyond the grave to a new heavens and new earth, the home of righteousness. The Church has sung for a long time now, “I’m but a stranger here; Heav’n is my home.” This certainly is true, but if this homing has something to do with the Gospel itself, then it is also true that the Church on earth is where heaven touches earth. We should be a “church home” to others, a place where they are at home, where they are part of the family, a foretaste of the feast to come.
Christ intends to give us a home. He has made His home with us and has prepared for us an eternal home, a home of righteousness, to which we all look forward and in which we all share. My prayer is that we can continue to be a welcoming home to young and old, friend and stranger, all people who come through our doors.
God bless St. John’s. May she be a welcoming home to all for years to come.
With gratitude to God for all of you,