This time last year we were frantically getting ready for our official opening. Can you believe that it’s over a year since we moved in? We celebrated our first anniversary of moving into the building at the end of September. It seems to have flown by and yet, in one sense, it feels as though we have been here forever. It feels like home.
My mother always used to go to the Ideal Home Exhibition every year. She’d queue for hours to see something and then come home with some gadget or other which didn’t make much difference to our home at all! Our home was a mix of the physical stuff that was there which varied over time and the people that were in it. Home is not so much a place as an idea. The thing that real homes have in common is that they feel safe. Anyone who has lived in a home environment that was not safe is likely to have been through a very difficult time and not experienced a real home at all.
Home is the place where you can relax, put your feet up and feel comfortable. But sometimes something happens to disturb that. Visitors arrive; you have to share the comfort of your home with other people. You find yourself being on your best behaviour and trying to be hospitable; trying to make others feel at home just as you do. But Benjamin Franklin the American scientist, inventor and revolutionary once said that “Guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days”. We just want to get back to the comfort that we had known before.
Sometimes, though, that’s not going to happen. The people coming into our homes are not visitors, they are here to stay. Children come along and we need to think about reorganising our homes, or getting a bigger one, or extending the one that we have. We have to not just be hospitable but to accommodate them. That
means adjustments, finding a place for the new arrivals.
What’s the connection between all this and the church? Well we too have a nice new home but we actually exist to welcome new arrivals. We want visitors and far from wanting them to go home again after a few days, we want them to stay and become part of this community. We believe that the Lord is wanting us to grow and wants to expand this family because that is what the church exists for. We are here to provide a
place where the hurting can be comforted, the confused can find understanding and the directionless can find a purpose. So we cannot just settle back and content where we are. We have to go where God leads us now.
When Jesus’ ministry was getting under way and he had called disciples to follow Him, He spent time ministering to the sick and the demonised in Capernaum. He was a success and doing amazing things. Mark 1:36-38 tell us Simon and his companions went to look for him, and when they found him, they exclaimed: “Everyone is looking for you!” Jesus replied, “Let us go somewhere else—to the nearby villages—so I can preach there also. It was not enough to dwell on the success of his ministry, Jesus had to move on to the next phase and so do we.
What will that look like? That’s what we as elders are praying about now but the message I really want to bring you today is this: don’t get too comfortable or complacent. We have to be ready for whatever God wants to do among us. If we believe that God wants to bring more people in we have to be ready to welcome them and to disciple them, otherwise they won’t be coming!
Yours in Christ