When I open the door from the garage into my home our dog, Theo, greets me with a wiggly welcome and wagging tail that tells me he is happy to see me. I am home. When I come home my wife greets me with a smile and a warm welcome (as soon as she can get around the dog). I am home. I smell the smells of home; see the light reflecting off the walls colored by the paint we chose. I am home. My books are on the shelves, the chairs are contoured to me. I am home. To become homeless, well, that would mean much more than losing the roof over our heads. It would mean losing the place where I most belong in this world.
That I have this place in the world that is so much more than shelter; that I have a home where I am safe and where I belong is a matter for which endless gratitude should be given. Sometimes I do give thanks. Other times I take it for granted and think of it as something I own, something I earned and deserve. That, of course is a lie. To have a place in this world we call home is a huge blessing and God’s gracious gift.
The Holy Scriptures that form us as the people of God have a deep reverence for a place called home. They also have a special compassion for those who do not have such a place. After all, the people of the Exodus wandered for forty years in a wilderness, hoping for a home. The people of Israel and Judah lost their ancestral home and were dispersed and exiled. They longed for a place called home. Jesus himself was born in a stable, because there was no home to welcome him. He said, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” (Matthew 8:20) Paul, followed Jesus right into the street: “To the present hour we are hungry and thirsty, we are poorly clothed and beaten and homeless.” (I Cor. 4:11) In the end, none of us really are home yet. We are on our way home to what waits. Until then, some of us have some pretty nice rest stops along the way.
Family Promise of Greater Des Moines is our mission partner. Next week we will welcome up to three families who are not just without permanent shelter, but have no place to call home; no place where the dog welcomes and the furniture and decorations say, “you belong.” For a week we will provide shelter, food and at least the warm welcome that you might get when you get home. We will provide a rest stop on a wilderness journey that, by God’s grace, will lead them home, a place they belong. Remember, it is by God’s grace we all have a place called home.
Pastor Tim Olson