John 1: 14- And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.
This reflection is inspired by two things happening around me that are in many ways disorienting. The first is something that will affect the community of First CRC, where I serve as Pastor. The fellowship of first CRC is about to become homeless after about fifty years worshipping in the same sanctuary. We are doing a renovation to our facility which will require us to “hit-the-road.” The second thing that confronts my sense of orientation are the stories of people groups around the world being displaced from their homes and from their countries as war, economic fragility and an impotent response from the governing bodies of the world have led to what some are describing as the worst refugee crisis the world has seen since WWII.
The common thread in these two “happenings” is the idea of becoming a refugee…a wanderer. The Bible talks about the human experience of wandering as being profoundly disorienting. The best example would be the people of Israel in the Exodus story as they fled from slavery with the promise that God would bring them into a home (the land of Israel) where they would find safe-haven and rest. It would be a land flowing with blessing out of which the people of Israel would be a blessing to the nations (Genesis 12). The Exodus story tells us that, in the midst of that promise, the experience of wandering was not entirely trouble free; the people of Israel would distrust that God who had rescued them. They would experience the hardships of wandering a desert that, without the ongoing presence of God, they would surely die. Before they got to this promised-land they had to leave what they knew (Egypt) and pass through a wilderness (The Sinai Desert) where they would experience the disorientation of wandering refugees.
The Bible also talks about what (or better yet who) will reorient us in the midst of disorienting experiences that could potentially lead to despair. God is the one who walks with his people. God is the one who makes home (tabernacles) with his people. God is the source of security in the midst of all the shakiness of this World that can so easily lead to despair.
The idea of God making home with us in this world is made deeper and richer as we think about this in terms of what Jesus did both in his life as well as in his death and resurrection. In the birth of Jesus we see a God willing to leave his home to make home with us. In his death and resurrection we see the extent to which God will go to bring us home. God is the one making space for his people.
There are significant implications for the church as we think about God making His home with his people. What does it mean to be the Church? At the most basic level the answer to this question is that the Church (those gathered before a God who makes home for his people) is a people who find home in God and make home for others where they too can experience the grace and truth of God revealed in Jesus. We are a gathering of refugees longing to find home and we do! We find home in Jesus and then we are called to make home for those who experience the disorienting effects of a world and lives broken by sin.
If you are reading this as someone looking at the fellowship of First CRC as a place where you might attend, please know we too are on this spiritual journey as fellow pilgrims. If you come to the place listed in the yellow pages to worship with us and see that our building isn’t very welcoming because it is under construction, please join us at the place we are worshiping (to be decided in the coming days) and experience the warm embrace of our fellowship. If you are a long-time worshipper at First CRC, be patient with us in the midst of all the things that feel like disorienting upheavals.