“There’s no place like home.” If we don’t all know the source of that quote (Dorothy, in “The Wizard of Oz”) we certainly all know the sentiment. For most of us, there is a place where we feel safe, secure and loved. A place where we can truly be ourselves and loved because of, or in spite of, that.
A place where we are known.
For many of us, home is identified geographically. Perhaps it’s the place where you grew up, what was your grandparents’ house, a place where your extended family gathered, someplace where, in your childhood, you felt safe. As an adult, it’s a place where you believe your roots are sunk deep into the ground.
I’m not too sure where that place is for me now. The home where I grew up was sold decades ago, and no one from my family lives within 100 miles of the place. The homes of my aunts and uncles, where our extended family gathered, have also been sold long ago. The house where my dad lived the last 20 years of his life is in a wonderful community on the Central California coast, and I love to go visit my stepmom there, but it was always their house and not my house.
I’m not always sure where “home” is for me. I think that my Facebook ties with childhood friends is both making me feel wistful for home, and more connected to the safe and secure places and people of my youth.
As an adult, I’ve lived in six states – on the west coast, the east coast, and in between. Even with all the moving, we try to make our house a “home base” for our children and our grandchildren so that they will feel a sense of home wherever we are.
I’m the pastor of young church, perhaps an adolescent church. When talking with charter members of the church, they talk about how much of a family feeling there was, and how the relationships and the place they built, felt like “home.” I understand that – it’s part of what draws people together into a new church development to be able to create something that will last and grow. At our church camping retreat last month, we sat around the campfire one evening. We went around the circle and talked about not what first drew them to Grace, but what made them stay here. The response of nearly every person was that it felt like home. One of the charter members present was really thrilled that the sense of family and home has stayed with the congregation, even as we have grown past the early days of a pioneer congregation.
We know that being part of a close and loving community larger than a family increases the likelihood of a child becoming an emotionally healthy adult, capable of healthy relationships and willing to give of themselves for the greater good. We know that being part of a close and loving community larger than a family increases the support that adults have for the challenging work of parenting and facing the common and uncommon trials of life.
I hope that you have a faith community that feels like home for you. And I would urge you that rather being an observer of that community, that you would be an active participant, growing in faith and serving God by serving others.