“God is building something. God is building a home.”
All my life, the experiences of home and church have been closely related. I grew up in a quite unique setting, where home would literally flow into church and church into home.
When my brothers and I were kids, we lived in a third-floor apartment that was physically attached to our church—a modern day parsonage, so to speak. Our living room was connected to my dad’s office by a double door, and my dad’s office on the other side led directly into the church building.
We lived in the church, and the church lived in our home. I know it must have been challenging at times for my mom and dad to unplug and keep healthy boundaries, but as a kid, I loved it! In my life and my everyday experience, church and home always were a blend, almost synonymous for the first 12 years of my life. It was heaven—or, I should say, a taste of heaven. Never perfect, never complete; but, looking back, it gives me an idea of what God had in mind when he created the church. And it gives me just a taste of what our “forever home” will be like.
I believe the reason why God is asking us to build homes and spaces just like home is that he wants us to get a glimpse of His eternal home for us: the home where everything good we experience in our earthly homes is even a thousand times better, and the bad is completely erased.
To me, home was the place where we belonged, laughed, fought, played, gathered, shared, scraped our knees, cried our tears, put on plays and “invited” the church staff to watch them. They watched people of all ages and walks of life come and go.
Home was the place where the phone or doorbell would ring at odd hours, where we played hide and seek in the sanctuary, built a play house in the church backyard, hunted for Easter eggs, put up Christmas trees, went to Sunday school, made friends, and sought out quiet time.
Home was the place where unconditional love happened and faith was present. Home was where we complained and were thankful, where we celebrated birthdays, made big and small mistakes, mourned losses, did our homework, snuck out to get a lollipop from our sweet church’s administrator in her office, and rode the elevator just for fun.
And home was the place to wonder what home looked like for others. One of my favorite things growing up was sitting by the window at night with the lights out and looking at all the lit windows of the high-rises surrounding our home. Even when we were still little, we knew that not everyone had a home like our home, a mom like our mom, a dad like our dad; and not everyone knew Jesus the way we did.
I remember times in our home when we gathered to read about kids in other parts of our world or a time we each picked out one of our favorite toys to give to the kids of a refugee family.
When I was little, I associated all of the things I have mentioned with the physical building—the walls, rooms, and places that contained “home”. But the older I got, the more I realized that home is more than walls, places and spaces—home means people, experiences, memories. Home means belonging, acceptance, room to grow and experiment, to discover, test boundaries and skills, spend time together and alone—just be. Home means having a space where we receive blessings and where we can be a blessing. Home means the freedom to be ourselves even when we don’t quite know yet what that means. Home means being on a journey individually and together becoming more of who God created us to be.
Home means having fun together and making a difference together, one life at a time, one step at a time. Home means having somewhere to invite people to, a space and place to include others and extend the blessings we know and to share the God who loves us in tangible ways.
We heard on Sunday, “God is building something. God is building a home.” Above all else, God is the one building, creating, inviting, and providing. A home is never perfect, and it is never complete. God is always in the process of building, growing, and adding on.
I am so excited for this season in the life of Willow Huntley. Having a place, a space, something that gives us the framework of experiencing home together, of inviting others in and watching God build is such an amazing gift. I can’t wait to hear the stories of memories and connections being made. I can’t wait to hear about the life-change, the big and small transformations and miracles along the way.
God is building something. God is building a home. What fun it will be to see the physical building go up. But more importantly—God has been building a home here at Willow Huntley for six years, and He currently is building a home for and through eac