Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Easter 5: At Home with God - by Kevin Bright

John 14.1-14 & 1 Peter 2.2-10

What do we associate with home? If we are lucky it may be a familiar place where we feel comfortable. It may be a productive place where we have what we need to do our work. It may be a space where we are free to express ourselves by our choice of d├ęcor and furnishing.

Home can also mean much more than physical space. Fortunate people look back on their childhood and even if they didn’t care much for the building that was home they recall familiar smells, bread making or simmering stews that gave a sense of comfort. When going through the difficulties and confusion of growing up home may have offered the one place where security was a given, at it’s very best where unconditional love lived.

There’s a TV show called ‘Gogglebox’ which has proven to be an unexpected hit. If you haven’t seen the programme it simply shows a cross section of British people in their homes watching the week’s television. There’s an Indian man with his two sons who are often making fun of him, a gently spoken gay couple, one of which must think he’s in the swearing Olympics, an outspoken vicar who curls up on the settee with her husband and their greyhound occasionally spilling their tea and a well to do couple from Tenterden with a bar in their front room which contains the widest range of alcoholic drinks outside of a hotel cocktail bar. Clearly these people, even though on TV, appear to be relaxed at home and free to behave without judgement.

Jesus was moving on peoples thinking about what his Father’s house really meant. You will be familiar with the time when Jesus overturned the tables of the money changers in the temple telling them’ stop making my Father’s house a market place’. He wants them to cease thinking that the temple is the only place they can meet with God and expand their horizons to consider the possibilities of a new relationship that gives access to God’s house via Jesus.

Our readings today challenge those of us who find comfort and security in our homes by suggesting that the world is not our home. Jesus describes a mansion so big that there is space for many of us to dwell there with God. He’s obviously not referring to a trip to John Lewis when he explains that he will prepare a place for us and come back to take us there.

Peter’s letter is for a diverse group of people who are starting to realise that Jesus isn’t going to be taking them to dwell with God just yet. The impact of this is that they will need to find meaningful existence on this earth for longer than they may have planned for and this would include facing up to persecution because of their faith.

Away from the comfort of a secure building I heard a homeless artist speaking on the radio this week that as long as he could set up and paint then he was at home anywhere. He didn’t need a fixed abode just the ability to work.

Perhaps this is a bit more like what God offers. He knows our physical needs and shelter are much desired but when it comes down to it if we want to be at home with God we find our security in different ways. It’s a sense of home available to everyone, particularly those who have not been lucky enough to have a safe peaceful home in their lives. When Thomas asks ‘how can we know the way’, the way to God, Jesus replies with those famous words ‘I am the way, the truth and the life.’ Effectively he is telling Thomas that if you want to know what God is like, he is like me, and if you want a room in his mansion you will find it through me. If we want to be at home with God we need to be at home with Jesus and we don’t have to wait until we depart this world to move in.

We know that God loves the world and it’s people and he shown us that there is no limit to this. So as long as we are on this earth the way we live our lives gives us an opportunity to respond to his love in the way we relate to each other regardless of our differences.

In fact we are told to get building straight away by Peter. He describes us as living stones that can be built into a spiritual house. There’s nothing here that says we can’t blob out on the settee and watch telly sometimes but if that becomes what home means for us then we need to think again.

Kevin Bright

18 May 2014


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