“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?" -John 14: 1- 2
What makes a home? I believe that home is any space where we feel welcomed, supported, and are able to rest. Sometimes it’s a place to retreat from the world, and sometimes it’s a place to invite the world into, to practice hospitality. Home is a place that we can call ‘ours’, where we can truly be ourselves.
It is important to acknowledge that for many people, the house they live in isn’t like this at all. For some, their house is a place where they have to hide who they are. Or perhaps where they feel fearful and are unable to find peace. And of course, there are lots of people who lack even a house, who can relate strongly to those words that Christ spoke: “The Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”
During Christmas, many students returned to the house they grew up in, and different people have different experiences of returning to that place. Some won’t have relished it, after experiencing a few months of independence. Some might have enjoyed the comforts they’ve gone without, like a balanced, varied diet and a truly warm house.
I pray that wherever you find yourself at this time, you’ll feel at home, whether it’s with close family, uni housemates, or your church family. Because, as Jesus’ words remind us, the Father’s house has many rooms. There’s space for everybody. Everybody is included, and nobody needs to be left out. The heart of the Father is to welcome, embrace and accept whoever turns to him.
Take care of yourself over this season. For some, that might mean retreating from the world for a time, to rest and recover in a place you can call home. But for others it might mean practising the hospitality of God, and enjoying the company of others as you welcome them into your home.
Take care of others this season, too. When you pray, pray for those who go without a place they can call home. Refugees, the homeless, and those who’s houses are filled with fear. And consider, is there something small and practical you can do for such people?
In the Father’s house I know I am accepted, and welcomed and can find peace. Help me Lord Jesus, especially at this time of the year, to accept, welcome and share your peace with others. Amen.
Written by Revd Gareth Banton, Assistant Curate at the Hope Hub team of churches.