02 Feb Coming Home: Rested, Renewed, & Equipped
Home. What comes to mind when you think of the word home
Twice in the past month I have taken trips. One was for a sunny, spectacular week of vacation, and one was necessitated by the serious illness and surgery of a family member. The former was fun and restful and adventurous while the latter was, most assuredly, none of those things. The first trip I anticipated with joy and excitement for months. The second I undertook soberly, with a heavy heart—grateful to be present, but it was a stressful, exhausting week, even with a better-than-expected outcome.
Despite the wildly different natures of the two trips, my return was very similar. I was so, so glad to be home. Back to my own bed. Back to my routine. Back to the nurturing relationships that surround and support me. Even—I can hardly believe I’m saying it—back to the gym. Back to work. Back to the rhythms and people and normal events that make up the very ordinariness of my days.
How remarkable that the God of the universe is present with and to me in my everyday ordinariness. That is just one of the truths that is part and parcel of what the church proclaims in the Apostles’ Creed, that ancient summary of Christian belief that we are currently studying in worship each week. Together we confess that God, in Jesus Christ, was “born of the Virgin Mary.” God took on flesh. God—Creating, Sustaining, Redeeming God—came to us in the only form we could really understand, that of a helpless infant who would grow to walk among us. Jesus came as “God with us” to show us who God is and what God is like. To do that, God had to “leave home” and make his home with us.
Reciting the Apostles’ Creed, when I do it attentively and from the heart, has the same effect on me as coming home from a trip. It is a return to something familiar and comforting, like a place I am invited to kick off my shoes, wrap up in a blanket and stay for a good long while to visit. I don’t mean to imply that I understand everything that is in the Creed. The Creed takes me by the hand and leads me to brush up against the mysteries of God, creation, meaning and purpose, life and death. But, that’s exactly the point, isn’t it? I am led by the hand. I am not alone, left to drift out to sea, unmoored by the limits of my intellect and understanding. My limitations are cocooned in the warm embrace of a God who invites me to call him, “Father.” I am a beloved daughter. I am treasured. I am home.
As we repeat each week of this sermon series, the point of the Apostles’ Creed is not merely to make a statement of belief. It is to change us. I am not to get so comfortable at home that I fail to put the Creed into action, to wrestle with the practical implications of what it means to believe in the person and work of Jesus Christ. God is with me, yes. But, God means me to share God’s presence with others. So, who needs the love of God? Who needs a word of hope or encouragement? Who needs a meal or a helping hand or someone to sit with them when they are sick or to cry with them when they grieve? Who needs me to speak out against injustice or hatred or abuse?
I love coming home and I am grateful to have a sanctuary that nurtures me. But, ultimately, home is not a place to which we retreat in order to shut out the world. It is a place to be renewed and refreshed so that we may engage the world as Christ’s hands and feet. As Mother Teresa said, we don’t have to do extraordinary things, just “ordinary things with extraordinary love.”
Yours for the Kingdom,