What do you think when you hear: "A Home for All"? Who do you imagine needing a home?
There are, of course, the people who need literal homes -- shelter that is consistent, safe and warm. Into whose shoes Bo Warner, Carl Mikesh and the Gardner family stepped this past Saturday as they slept out in the elements with only sleeping bags and cardboard boxes to shelter them. There are the unaccompanied youth who did not experience safety or acceptance in whatever shelter they did have. And along with shelter, they left childhood behind as they venture off on their on.
There are the children who have somewhere safe and loving to return to at the end of each day but for whom school is torture. The Children who are bullied because of who they are, what they like or what they wear. A member of our community shared a recent news article with me about a 12-year old child who died by suicide after his peers repeatedly told him he would go to hell because he was gay. Our decision to become Open and Affirming may literally be life-saving for someone. Imagine if that little boy had had a church telling him that he was loved, made in God's image, and definitely NOT going to hell.
There are those of us who live with the deep wounds of trauma, sexual, physical or verbal abuse, who are told (usually not explicitly) that those parts of us are not welcome. There are those of us who live with physical and mental ailments that keep us awake at night. There are those of us who fear going out because we are not sure how our bodies or spirits will hold up. Will we even be able to access community spaces or bathrooms? Will we be able to hear? Will anxiety overwhelm us?
There are those of us who are afraid to share that we are struggling with caregiving, with financially supporting an adult child, or that we or someone we love is living with addiction. There are those of us who wonder if our voices matter -- because we are survivors, or women, or gay or lesbian, because we didn't finish college much less high school, because we are young or because we are old. Because our ancestry is indigenous, Asian, African, Caribbean, or Latin American or a mix that we don't know. Because we look, sound, dress or pray a little differently. Because we might cry or lose our words or simply not know what to say.
I've been thinking about a home for all -- in our scripture reading for Sunday, we hear: "All humanity will see God's salvation." And I cannot help but hear: "And there will be a home for all -- a place of love, safety and belonging."
As I think about a home for all, the image that keeps appearing is that of Charlie (age 3) this past Sunday as she explored the front of our sanctuary. Sure, it was a little distracting, but didn't Jesus tell his disciples that children show us what God's beloved community looks like -- forget distraction! This is the good news -- the main point of what we do together on Sunday morning: to grow or build or tend beloved community!
This last week, Charlie showed us what a home for all looks like. It looks like a place where we can come just as we are -- whether that's 3 years old or 93 years old -- with our curiosity and delight. It looks like a place where we can get up and move as our bodies and minds may need. It looks like a place to explore, to watch, listen and learn and also to talk, sing and dance. It looks like a place where we can return from exploration into the loving embrace of a mother, grandfather, friend, or a pastor. A home for all looks like love.
May we each tend that home this week.