The Festival of The Reformation

We’ve called it ‘living in the jet on the runway’ as the dehumidifiers dry out the house after the broken pipe. Yes, they’re loud. We were told that sometimes people turn the ‘daleks’ (my name for them) off when they go to sleep but we’d don’t really hear them upstairs and we’ve sort of migrated upstairs to live and work and left them running constantly. The sooner the house is dry, the sooner the repairs can happen. But the noise abated when we turned them off for the quick departure of Charlotte’s niece and her baby son who have been with us as they try and return to Australia. The news had come suddenly that the Australian Government was allowing more Australians to return home and they were on the first flight. What a frantic and frenetic time to get things organised at short notice! But you do it – and they are now in quarantine in Australia for two weeks – but you do it all because of home. You also repair and restore it because it is home.

Home. We know the power and the pull of home; that special place where you’re comfortable, where everything is familiar; the sights, sounds, and smells you long for when you’re away. Ok, I may be romanticising this somewhat but I hope you all can understand my thought.

Yes, I know home, however, may not be idyllic. At the moment with various tiers (should that be ‘tears’?) of lockdown, home can seem rather claustrophobic. People want to get out! (And those days will come again.) Home can also be fearful when there is violence and abuse within. I know that homelessness is a real issue – physically (there really shouldn’t be anyone ‘sleeping rough’) and also emotionally and psychologically (when there is harm at home) – but the ideal of home still calls us and can inspire us.

One of the Bible passages often used at a funeral is from John 14 about Jesus and his Father’s house ‘having many rooms’ and I’m pretty sure most people translate the words into ‘home’ (with the thought ‘my loved has gone home’) and think architecturally – God’s front door, staircases, and lots of rooms. However the word for ‘room’ is more about ‘remaining’ – somewhere safe and secure in a storm – and Jesus also spoke about he and his Father making their home with people! This means that our postcode isn’t critical but with Jesus with us and the Father who both send the Holy Spirit – when God is with us, we are home!

It is an interesting thought – to think at every moment – that with God we are home at that moment. And depending on your God, this can seem a bad exercise in imagining or psychological harm! Religion permeates reality – for better or worse – and an idea such as ‘with God with us, we are home’ might be a comfort and strength or a dread and a desire to escape lockdown! It all depends on the God with you.

That is why the Gospel is so so critical and beautiful and unexpected and needed – that God in Christ is gracious and merciful to us and wants us to be at home with him! Every other god in this world is transactional and some of Christianity is also – you do the right things by God and he’ll reward you. But that is not what the Bible proclaims or what emerged for Martin Luther when transactions just keep you on the treadmill of pride or fear. No, the Gospel is a gift – freely given – and guaranteed by Jesus who is the Word made flesh who dwells with us – and the word for ‘dwell’ comes from pitching a tent! Just imagine, the almighty God pitches a tent with us each day no matter where we are and with him with us, we are home! GS