Walking through the house, I must say, was a mix of emotion, chronicling with alarming detail every change that had been made to the house. The same yellow washer dryer set was still in the utility room 22 years ago—is that a testimony to Whirlpool or neglect on the owners part? And so it went, room by room. When we came to my sister’s closet, something magical happened. The long metal ball chain that connected to the ceiling light was still broken half way up, and it still had the same Laura Ashley Ribbon that we had tied on 25 years ago. My eyes widened, I pulled the chain and entered the attic and looked for the place in the rafters where we had written in black Sharpie “Kathryn and Chris Kibbie lived here 1972-1995.” Tears. It was like standing on holy ground.
Presbyterian author and minister Frederick Buechner says a house is not a home until you have brought home a baby or two, until you have stayed up all night with a colicky child, or sat beside a loved one who is sick and waited until the morning hours when you can put the coffee pot on and call the doctor first thing. A home is not a home until you have finally made the team, and you come home to celebrate. Or until you’ve lost a job, and come home to the ones who love you anyway. A home is a home when you have been accepted to college, and you pack all your wordly goods into a few suitcases and leave. Home is a sacred place.
Throughout the Scriptures, home is a powerful concept. No word in the English language stirs the emotions as much as the word home. The Bible is full of stories about places that are sacred, places where people encounter God: the Garden of Eden, the promised land of Canaan. Mount Sinai, Bethlehem, the River Jordan, Nazareth, the Garden of Gethsemane, the Road to Emmaus.
Our Sanctuary, memorial garden, and cloister are sacred places for many people. Folks who have moved away or come back for the holidays come early to the Sanctuary simply to breathe the air and feel how good it feels to “be home.” I often catch people wandering through these sacred spaces, remembering weddings, baptisms, and memorial services. God is surely here with us. In the ministry we call this a “thin place” where we can see clearly through the veil to the heavenly realm.
This past week was Thanksgiving and my daughter Avery came home from West Point for the first time. She had never been to Bronxville or to our church. She graduated from high school in June and reported for basic training within days. I let her walk through the house while I got her bag out of the trunk of the car. By the time I was inside, she was floating from room to room saying, “it is so good to be home.” And then she went to her room upstairs which I had lovingly prepared for her (too much I must admit), and cried. “I could not love it any more! Mommy, it is perfect!” Right then I was sure of what I had suspected all along. This is my family’s home. This is my spiritual home, just like it is your spiritual home. And I couldn’t love it any more. It is so good to be home.
Whether you come every week, or whether you have not been in a while, I invite you to join us for the Advent and Christmas services and for the many concerts we have in the coming weeks. Come home! Why? Because there is nothing like home.
Advent Blessings and peace,