Rev. Steven Norris
When you think of the word “home,” I wonder what comes to mind. For many, it may include a particular house in which they grew up. For some, it may bring to memory the faces of people that inhabited that dwelling and made it feel like home. For others, the idea of home brings up painful memories and may not have been a place of comfort and refuge.
The idea of home has been a topic of conversation at my house this week. Two years ago, we made Griffin our home and we were thrilled to expand that calling this past weekend as I said yes to serving in a new role in the church we call home. It got me to thinking, however: where does God go when God goes home?
The image of God’s home runs like a scarlet thread throughout the text of the Hebrew and Christian scriptures. In the opening chapters of Genesis, Eden is founded as a kind of “home” for God – a place where God and humanity can meet face to face and walk together in the cool of the day. This paradise, however, was short-lived and proved elusive.
Abram was called by God to leave his home and travel to a foreign land. God promised to go with him. In Exodus, we see the command of God to build a temporary home in the form of the tabernacle and the promise that God would go with the Israelites wherever they went.
When they established themselves in the promised land, the Israelites built for God a more permanent dwelling. The temple became a more permanent symbol of God’s abiding presence until it was destroyed by the Babylonians and the people taken into exile. We see the question echoed in the literature of the prophets: Where was God? Had God abandoned them?
In Jesus, we see a different kind of “home” emerge. Christian theology teaches that, in Jesus, the fullness of God took up residence in flesh and blood in order to live among us and to reconcile us with the Divine. This, too, would be temporary – confined to a mere 33 years before Jesus was crucified, died, and buried.
When Jesus arose and ascended into heaven, the Christian scriptures assert that he poured out the Holy Spirit on humankind, taking up residence in the lives and hearts of believers. The scriptures even refer to humans as a “temple of the Holy Spirit” and pictures a coming day when there will be no temple because God will dwell directly with humanity once again.
In these days of continued social isolation, when our sense of normal has been shaken to the core – when we can’t see the faces of our neighbors through masks, can’t attend all the places we are accustomed to visiting, can’t even go to “God’s house” to worship together, and we are getting tired of looking at the walls of our own house – let us remember: this isn’t our home.
Or rather, let us remember that our home can be anywhere because the Divine lives within us and will be with us wherever we go.