Our family has been packing for a move. Not across the country or even across town. We’re simply moving a few miles to a house close to my husband’s work. However, we’ve learned through nearly twenty years of marriage and now six moves, every move is a big move. This one seems especially big as I sort through ten years of accumulated “stuff” and recall the ten years of memories that have taken place within these walls.
As I have processed all of these times – both the bitter and the sweet (mostly sweet) – I have remembered the gatherings, both large and small, that we’ve been privileged to host through the years. The people who have graced us with their presence…
The small group that circled round our den to study the Word, watch the Superbowl, or share a meal. Couples that joined us for a game of Canasta or Scrabble. Girlfriends who offered me connection while I offered simply a mug of Chai. Elders who gathered late on Wednesday nights. And our son’s small group that somehow makes a weekly Bible study a rowdy, full-contact sport.
While each of these encounters differed, they all shared one common trait: They were all expressions of community. Through the years I’ve learned that when we open our home to others, we open our hearts to them as well. These people shared laughter and tears, joy and sorrow with us. They filled this home with life and brought their own unique voice into the conversations that have taken place here. And most importantly, they have revealed Christ to us…how he loves us, how he accepts us, and how he provides relationships to nurture, console, encourage, and grow us.
I recently read a plaque that said, “Welcome home. Feel free to be yourself.” Yes! As a family, we yearn for those who enter our front door to feel comfortable being who they are…the good, the bad, and the ugly. For our guests to feel so at home they can kick their shoes off (or keep them on); they can sit in the well-worn armchair that clearly says, “I’m the favorite” and feel at ease; and they can share their hearts and know they are safe.
My parents had their own plaque hanging at the entrance to their house. It read, “To all who enter here, know this is a Christian home.” A visiting friend once remarked, “Whoa, that’s serious!” Perhaps he read it with an inferred tone of warning. I actually like that declaration because it makes a promise: This home is a place of peace where love is real, forgiveness is offered freely, grace is plenty, and you are always welcome.
As we continue life in a new house, we pray that it is exactly this kind of home. One where Christ reigns and community thrives. You are welcome. (Just give me a few weeks to unpack the boxes!)