Dear Fellow Home-bodies in Christ,
Yes, we are indeed home-bodies right now, ever since Governor Bullock issued the “Stay at Home” directive last Friday. Well, many of us are. Some, those who are essential to the ongoing functioning of our communities, are out doing their work, keeping us safe, caring for our health, providing food on grocery shelves, picking up our trash. Thank you to all those who continue to work and risk your health for our well-being!!
But many of us – at least those of us who have homes -- are staying home as we’ve been asked and ordered to do. For some this is the most time we’ve spent in our homes in months, even years. For others staying home with family members we only see occasionally has been an experiment in relationship growth. For those who are introverts, staying home is a dream come true…until it’s not anymore. For those who are extroverts, seeing the same walls and people only through a screen is a bit maddening.
One question we might be asking during this stay-at-home time when we’re not able to join together in physical, in-person worship is: where is God in all of this? Is God in God’s own home safe and sound and watching us from a distance through Zoom or Facetime as we suffer through Covid19 alone? Or has God left home to somehow punish the group of people we dislike the most with this awful virus or to punish us for some slight?
The answer to both of those questions is no, absolutely not, no way! The God of steadfast love and endless mercy, the God of forgiveness of sin in Jesus Christ does not work that way. God is with us in this time, suffering with and supporting us, loving us in our love for one another and weeping when we don’t.
In the Gospel of John, we hear several references to God’s home that describe vividly where God is right now. In John 1:14, we hear that the Word – God in Jesus Christ – became flesh and made his home among us. Literally, Jesus pitched his tent in our home. Later, also in John 1:38-39, two disciples ask Jesus where he is staying. And Jesus says “Come and see! Come and see my home, my place, and my way.” Also, when Jesus is getting ready to depart, Jesus says, “In my Father’s home there are many dwelling places and I am going to prepare a place for you.”(Jn 14:2-3) And then, in that upper room where the disciples are staying at home in fear, Jesus breathes the Spirit into us, his followers, again entering our homes to stay. (Jn 20:22)
In these words from Jesus, the Word of God, we see that we are already home with God and God is home with us. God’s home is our home and our home is God’s home. Because Jesus became incarnate and lived with us, God made us God’s own home in this place. Because Jesus breathed the Spirit into us through our Baptism, God made us God’s own home in this space. And now Jesus calls us, invites us to dwell with him in his home, following him and his way of “staying at home” by trusting in God (faith) and loving one another in all that we say and do, perhaps even by finding ways to help those who have no physical home. In Christ we are home in God, and God has made a never-ending home in us. Praise be to God!
I would like to close with these home-y words from Henri Nouwen, again from Following Jesus: Finding our Way Home in Anxious Times (p. 20-21): “The Lord is my house. The Lord is my hiding place. The Lord is my awning. The Lord is my refuge…my tent, my temple, my dwelling place. The Lord is my home…the place where I want to dwell all the days of my life. God wants to be our room, our house…to be anything that makes us feel at home.”
So stay at home with God these next several weeks until once again we can return in person to our communities and congregations and be at home in Christ together.
May God bless and keep you all in your homes!
Bishop Laurie Jungling
Elected June 1, 2019, Laurie is the 5th Bishop of the Montana Synod