Sacred Soil


Come home
July 22, 2012, 10:15 am
Filed under: Sermons

July 22, 2012
Time after Pentecost – Lectionary 16

Jeremiah 23:1-6
Psalm 23
Ephesians 2:11-22
Mark 6:30-34, 53-56

This week our youth and three adults have been down in New Orleans gathering with 35,000 other Lutherans from around the country. I’ve had a chance to watch a bit of what’s going on, and have gotten a few texts. Just enough to know that they are having an extraordinary time. It is truly an astounding thing—thousands of teenagers gathered together to celebrate God, to embrace a city, to love being Lutheran.

They’ve also been quite wet—with the drenching rains we so desperately long for. (Perhaps they’ll bring that back with them).

This text from Ephesians, our epistle for today, actually serves as the theme for their gathering this week. Citizens with the Saints. It’s beautiful on so many levels. But perhaps my favorite way is that they are learning, living out what it means to be this astounding household of God with others from around the country and in the city of New Orleans.

They’re learning what it means to make home, to be the household of God with complete strangers. With folks they’d never imagine. With folks they might have even thought were beyond God’s love.

Home. Making home. Home is one of these elusive words that has so many meanings that it’s hard to really pin it down. At its best, it’s comfortable and warm. It smells nice. It’s safe. It’s a place where there’s enough and where there’s always room at the table for one more. That is home, at its best… too many of us know a completely other sort of home, a home that is the opposite of these things. A home that is frightening, and cold.

I suppose that’s why God knew we needed some other kind of home, the household of God, the home that does it’s darndest to make home that place, that experience, that it should be.

When I was a child one of my favorite hymns was this one that we’ll sing this morning, Softly and Tenderly Jesus is Calling. It has this beautiful chorus, come home, come home! You who are weary, come home. Frank might declare this our second schmaltz Sunday of the month… and while it is a bit schmaltzy (depending on your taste), it evokes all these best images of home. The comfort, the welcome, the embrace. The relief.

But, I have to admit, there was a time when I wasn’t so enamored with it. I suppose I needed my music to be “cooler” and more hip. But, I was also uncomfortable because I worried.—the text as I read it suggested that it was my job to go out and find this home—to look for that Jesus, so that I could be welcomed into that safety and warmth. And I wasn’t so sure that was good theology, and I wasn’t so sure I could do it. That anyone could do it.

Those who need home the most shouldn’t have to be the ones who go out hunting for it.

But I think this is precisely what we Christians get caught up in all the time. We divide ourselves from each other, the folks who know where Jesus’ home is, and those who don’t. We’re known for setting up all sorts of rules and divisions and expectations. And in the end, we’re known more for what we’re against, than what we are for.

We have this habit of dividing ourselves making a clear line between us and them. A line between who’s worthy to be at home with us, and who is not.

And unfortunately, this isn’t anything new. Our Ephesians text reminds us, that at one time, we Gentiles by birth, were called the “uncircumcision” (how’s that for a group name?) by those who are called the “circumcision.” Division and markers—lines drawn clearly. Cutting through us with clear precision.

But if there’s one thing I’ve learned about our God, it’s that whenever we draw a line between us & them, God’s always on the other side. Beckoning—come home.

This text from Mark reminds us that Jesus came to make a home amongst us, we who are weary. All of us. Crossing from shore to shore, Jesus gathers all of us, making us all the household of God. Right here, in the middle of all our messiness.

Jesus was most at home, surrounded by the cacophony of humanity, gathering with those he “shouldn’t have,” with the sick and infirm, with those of the lowest class, with the tax collectors, sinners of all stripes. With everyone that made the powers that be uncomfortable. With everyone that made the disciples uncomfortable.

When we draw a line, God is always on the other side. Beckoning—come home.

And so at some point this song, Come Home, was changed for me, and I realized that God is most at home amongst us, amongst all of us sinners and saints. This home coming is for all of us weary people. Each and every one of us. Together. And so we’re all invited to this home as the household of God. Invited to bring that home to those who most need it—to take home into the streets. Invited to make home with people we would never have imagined.

With the circumcised and the uncircumcised. Those who look differently than us. The straight folks and the gay and lesbian folks. The business owners and the retail workers. The retired and the young.

You who are weary come home—is not a call to whole-up in a cave of Jesus-comfort. It’s not a call to barricade ourselves with self-righteousness. No, rather it is a call to go out and gather with all the weary and to make home together. To be the household of God. To know that Jesus has already made a home with us, and we all gather in this home as one people of God. It is an invitation to step on the other side of the lines that divide us—for our God abolished the law that there might be in Jesus one new humanity in place of the two.

So that God might welcome us home, all of us as the household of God together. To make peace. To embrace, and hold, the welcome hug of loving family, all who are weary. Home together.

And this, I think, is what it truly means to be Citizens with the Saints.

Amen.


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