Home is a recurring theme for worship. The call to come home, the desire to go home, feeling a sense of home all strike at the heart of who we are as human beings. This is why we return again and again to these themes. Plus, it seems to be prevalent in the scriptures. However, as with most things, Jesus is inviting us to think differently about home and what it means to be at home—not so much the warm and cozy hearth and home, but the relationships and commitments that we have within the human community.
Worship can be a place of celebrating the home we create within the body of Christ. We consider the connection we have, the support we have experienced, and the acceptance that comes from those we sometimes call “brother” or “sister” in Christ. At the same time, we also consider the openness of the community. Too much celebration of the relationships we already have can feel like insider language to someone who doesn’t yet feel a part of the faith community. How do we present the church as the home with open doors so that all are gathered up into the family from the moment they enter the space? Likewise, we consider our home to be among the people who don’t gather with us when we worship. We are in service to the whole world, and our slice of it in our neighborhoods. So, we avoid thinking of “us and them” and consider everyone we encounter to be a part of our sense of home.
We pray, then, for a sense of corporateness and connection within the body of Christ. We ask for eyes of inclusion and invitation, ways to offer the wider community a sense of home, particularly those on the margins who have felt disconnected and unwanted. We ask for strength to risk reaching out and carrying the idea of home with us whenever we engage in conversation. We sing about the Christ who claimed us and made us feel at home and the Spirit that sustains our unity of mind and heart. We give God thanks for the sense of place and the relationships of mutual love and support that we too often take for granted.
Not just this week, but especially this week, we should find ways of posting pictures of the church being the church, the connections that we make with the wider community as well as the times of fellowship within. Make real the idea of home in as many ways and in as many places as possible throughout the building and even within the worship space. Project them on the screen or post them on the walls so that you can people see that there is a place that feels like home here.
Rev. Dr. Derek Weber, Director of Preaching Ministries, served churches in Indiana and Arkansas and the British Methodist Church. His PhD is from University of Edinburgh in preaching and media. He has taught preaching in seminary and conference settings for more than 20 years.