The Fifth Sunday in Lent

It was a ‘slow news day’ I think. The tagline read ‘Kookaburra spotted living in Suffolk countryside’. I clicked. There was a 28 second clip of it sitting on a branch. It didn’t laugh though you could hear noise on the clip but I was taken by the old familiarity of seeing it. Kookaburras are members of the Kingfisher family, native to Australia, monogamous, and can live more than 20 years. It was first spotted near Sudbury in 2015. According to the Suffolk Wildlife Trust it would be an ‘escapee’ which “seems to have made itself quite at home in Suffolk”.

“At home in Suffolk” but we all know also “not at home” might be a good summary of the situation. In fact such sentiments can often be said. I remember a conversation about a decade ago at morning tea at Ascension when we were saying that if not for World War 2 many of us wouldn’t be here! My father wouldn’t have been a post WW2 ‘displaced person’ on a ship to Australia where he would eventually meet an Australian lady … and he never returned to Europe. He lived the second half of his life ‘at home but not at home’ if you know what I mean. From the major – migration, forced migration – slavery (in past centuries and sadly, still a scourge today) or being a refugee through to the minor such as a change of writing style or accent or the code of rugby or the ingredients for that special ‘dish from home’ – we all can understand ‘at home but not at home’.

As physical beings we all crave place – our space. We just don’t flit here and there. We may have our home but also a favourite part of it – ‘our’ part – that chair, where the sun shines in, that part of the garden. We have favourite parts of the country. We have our regular – is it the favourite? – seat in church? To lose such places can cause sadness and depending what ‘home’ is lost, deep grief. Home is serious stuff.

And because home is serious stuff, Jesus told his disciples after he had instituted Holy Communion and before his arrest at Gethsemane – these were part of his last words to them, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me. These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid (John 14:23-27 ESV).

The entire point of all Jesus said that night and what he did on the cross and through the empty tomb and what he does now through words, water, bread and wine is that he is making his home with us. The work of the Triune God is one of movement – not us going to him – but God coming to us and wherever we are we can be ‘at home’ with God. This isn’t simply mind games – thinking ‘God thoughts’ – but it is always grounded in where Jesus said he is to be found – through words, water, bread and wine – but as we depart from his presence, we never go back out into the world – to our own homes – to our dislocation – alone. We go forward to ‘home’ (here and now) knowing we’re not ‘at home’ (living in the heavenly realm). Such a perspective impacts how we face and deal with each day for Jesus is with us always and so we seek to follow him … home.