Thoughts for Home
by Eirik Olsen
We all have a concept of “home.” It should be a place where we can just be, a place where we belong and are wanted, a place where we are safe and can flourish. We marry and form friendships for just that reason. We escape from families and friendships because they violate that ideal.
My first post was about conversation—the exchange of words about a shared interest and how that forms community or creates connection with people you like or love. The hope for home starts with conversation—with God and one another.
One of the conversation models I’ve been reflecting on is the Transfiguration. Jesus, Elijah and Moses meet on the Holy Mountain, where Jesus speaks of His coming death (or “Exodus”, as Luke puts it), and then is bathed in Light. Peter, overcome by the glory that he sees, speaks and gets “shut down” by the voice of God!
Embedded in this story, I think, is some guidance about home and how we enjoy it; some guidance that we’ve built into our church’s house groups and which, I hope we will all build into our family “house groups,” as well.
1. Create Context: Jesus pulls the three disciples away from their busy lives to a place apart. If we are not willing to set aside some time and space, the conversation that builds home isn’t going to happen. Sabbaths and church buildings are how we do it in the Church. We need similar time and space “boundaries” for holy conversation in the family. It looks like Jesus just took one evening for his mountaintop experience. An evening! Set aside some time and space.
2. Get God’s Text: Jesus speaks with the Father of His plans for Himself and us, in the light of Scripture, embodied by Moses and Elijah. Holy Scripture in prayer and fellowship is a living conversation that transcends the earthly, but it also touches the earthly context in brilliantly illuminating ways. Even hard words—like Christ’s vocation to carry a cross—are understood as glory in that light. Our own crosses can be similarly wonderful. Open up the scriptures and speak of it with your brothers and sisters, your families, in the presence of God. Open up God’s word.
3. Open Yourself: Peter knows he has just witnessed an incredible manifestation of God’s light, but he only partially gets what is going on. He wants to make a “dwelling place,” houses to hold the divine glory he is experiencing. He doesn’t understand that you cannot “manage” home! By seeking to preserve memories we clip the flower from the stem. We stop participating in the living conversation. Home with God is much more dynamic than that. Godly dwelling is more than building a tabernacle, more than a code of behavior, and more than reproduceable patterns from the past, as good as those things can be. Don’t lock in on your ideas; be expectant.
4. Pay Attention: God has a correction for Peter, who wants to enjoy a dwelling place with God: Listen to my Son. In other words, the phenomenon of that moment has its source in the Conversation with Jesus. We understand the scriptures to speak of Jesus, with Jesus, and from Jesus. In the transfiguration, Moses and Elijah saw ahead and gloried in that Word to come, even as Jesus relished the conversation Himself, and as they together anticipated prophetic fulfillment. Every experience of home, every encounter with God and of dwelling with God will likewise be in Christ’s words heard. Home with God happens every time we enjoy together the words He speaks to us through His word, illumined by His Spirit. Listen now and keep listening.
5. Act On It: With a home built of such heavenly fortifications we can go down the mountain in confidence, even when confronted with those who resist the Light. Jesus’ way in action is no different than in prayer—it’s a constant conversation with God, and a sharing of that conversation with others. In listening to God we know what to do and have the confidence to do it. We become lights to the world. This is a flourishing and productive life.
Peter is a rock on which the Church, the Household of God, is built because he learned to listen to Jesus. And, in sharing that same Word with other “living stones,” Christ has built a LivingTemple. If we want to, we can come home. We are the House of God as we listen to Him. Living stones, it turns out, are listening stones. True home is built of such material.
July 31, 2017
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