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Holy Week 2020 – Rev. Mark Thompson

Holy week 2020 – Rev. Mark Thompson, Region Minister ABC-IN/KY

Being Home

Like many of you, I have spent an inordinate amount of time at home lately.  I love my home.  I love those who live in my home and I love the memories made here.  Behind each scratch in the table and impression on the floor, there is a story.  These stories represent the best of my life.  We find comfort in our times of struggle with those who are closest to us, with those who live in our home.  Many of us have spent time dreaming of home improvements and others may have found gratitude in keeping your home.

Earlier this year, I had the blessing of spending the day with Miroslav Volf, Director of Theology at Yale Divinity School who greatly influenced this writing.  He asked a very simple question that I think many of us have pondered over the past few weeks.  He simply asked, “What is home?”.  He then shared a meaningful characterization of home.  The things in our home speak to us.  The people and objects are engaging.  We have an abiding attachment to space which creates significance that is unique to us.  Our home is a place of belonging and all who live here do so in agreement.  God’s desire is for us to agree to abide in Him.

All that God has accomplished is rooted in His desire to make His Home with us.  Think about that.  In Genesis, our Creator created so that He may live with His creation.  Almighty God walks the earth with His favorite creation. In the cool of the Garden He dwells with Adam and Eve.  We describe this home as paradise because it is exactly how God meant it to be.  Adam and Eve wanted more from their home. They thought it could be better. They were unsatisfied with the home God had made for them.  They fell into the temptation of wanting more than the perfect place of dwelling with God. The relationship suffers and the home is broken and so is the heart of God, but He is a forgiving God.

God’s desire to dwell with His people continues into the book of Exodus.  As God liberates His people to be His own, it remains His desire to live in fellowship.  Throughout Exodus, God’s love for His people unfolds.  He offers to His people a covenant.  He will be their God if they will be His people.  He then reveals through the 10 commandments how the relationship will be established.  By the end of Exodus, the Tabernacle has become the dwelling place of God among His people.  This home is only temporary and in some ways, inadequate.  God’s home needs an address.

God desires a solid structure among His people.  God wants His people to know exactly where to find Him.  The Temple becomes God’s dwelling in place in the City of David.  It is perfect.  It is beautiful.  No home on earth has ever matched this Holy home.  All who call upon Him may come to this address and find Him.  He will sit on His Mercy Seat atop of the Ark of the Covenant in the Holy City of Jerusalem.  God once again dwells among His people.  And once again, mankind chooses to complicate the covenant relationship in the agreement to dwell together.  The covenant is broken and for 400 years, God doesn’t come home.  Everything mankind thought they knew about the Home of God is about to change.

When the Word became flesh, God became homeless.  Christ is born and laid in a manger.  Homelessness becomes Holy.  Jesus is reared in a home with a loving family but becomes homeless again after the temptation.  The call of Abraham to leave his people is reflected in the life of Jesus and His ministry.  Throughout His ministry, Jesus lived with sympathizers and slept outside, most likely in a Garden.  Miroslav Volf said that the love for God and homelessness do not exist in tension with one another because the world has un-homed itself.  We see through the Gospels a Homeless God meeting a homeless people.

Jesus said He came to His own, but His own did not receive Him.  In this rejection, Jesus becomes homeless.  Rejection meant He was only at home in the comfort of His disciples. The disciples themselves become homeless as they follow Jesus and live out His mission.  In the last week of His life, He moved between Bethany and Jerusalem.

He had to borrow a room for the Last Supper and then He went out to the Garden for the night.  The homelessness of Jesus is essential.  No longer will God have a home for His people to come find Him.  Jesus said if you destroy the Temple that He could rebuild it in 3 days.  He also predicted the destruction of the Temple where one stone would not be left on another.  Why would God allow His Holy Home to be destroyed?  The only conclusion is that this Home, the Temple itself, is no longer needed.  Jesus is the Temple.  He is the dwelling place of God.  He is where God meets His people.  We no longer have to journey to Him because He comes to us.  In our homeless relationship with God, Jesus offers us shelter.

Jesus came so that the relationship between God and His favorite creation could be restored. When we live in sin, like both Prodigal Sons, we live in homelessness.  God, the loving Father, waits for the day we come home.  Jesus made this path straight.  Jesus explains that apart from Him we have nothing.  We are homeless in a lonely way.  Jesus also says that if we abide in Him we will bear much fruit.  The call of the Gospel is to abide in Him, to make our home in Him, and in doing so become homeless to this world.

As we live in this Holy Week leading up to Resurrection Sunday, we do so knowing we will not be worshipping together in our respective churches.  I know under different circumstances we should be worshipping together, but don’t miss what God can teach us from a different perspective in this unique situation.  This week, I want to encourage you to think about the homeless nature of God.  The first Easter did not happen in a Holy Structure but outside of the Temple; the veil was torn for a reason.  His followers came to the tomb, but it was empty as well.  The tomb was not His home.  I invite you to think about the empty places of the Easter story.  I invite you to find the holiness of being un-homed, for Jesus came to un-home us from this world.  Jesus explained it to us in John 14, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.”

Maranatha! Come, Lord Jesus!