Moving house has also changed our relationship with our home in some surprising ways - in a new location, furniture and pictures have a fresh aspect. There's something about packing and cleaning that creates a reflective mood. We've been looking back on events and occasions we had forgotten about, reading old birthday cards, and in the process of sharing our new address we've found ourselves reconnecting with friends we had inexplicably lost contact with. It's been a really lovely process, but we still find ourselves sometimes looking backwards and missing the things we loved about our first home.
In the Bible, particularly in the Hebrew scriptures (the Old Testament), the idea of home is not tied to an individual dwelling, but associated with the location and spirit of God. Throughout the early books of the Bible, our spiritual ancestors are a displaced people wandering in a desert wilderness amongst hostile people, seeking a promised land, but in some sense they are already 'home'. Their home is wherever the Ark of the Covenant and the spirit of God is amongst them, and where they are with their people.
When we come to church – especially when we visit a new church for the first time – we are looking for the place that will be that home for us. We are seeking a place where we see the Spirit in the people and find ourselves amongst family, and when we come to worship we are seeking to authentically create relationships, with God and with one another.
We all have places of change and uncertainty in our lives, and often have to reset what it means to be ‘home’, but with the reassurance of the presence of God, who gives us each hope and a future, we can be certain that wherever we discern the spirit we can confidently make our home.