Where is my home?
Where do you feel most at home? Is it a place filled with childhood memories, or is it where you live now? Is it in a beautiful landscape, or amongst people you love and trust? Is it safely locked behind the door of your house? Or are you longing for eternity – to be ‘at home’ with Christ?
Over the past ten years I’ve rediscovered for myself a lost strand in the biblical tapestry: the call to be at home wherever God plants us. Living in a crowded multiracial part of London, where people have roots all over the world, I’ve been drawn time and again to Jeremiah 29:4-7: God’s words to his people in exile in Babylon. The people want to be somewhere else, but God calls them to put down roots in Babylon: to plants gardens and eat what they produce (ecological roots), to have families (social roots), and to pray and work for the peace and prosperity of the city (economic, political and spiritual roots). It is a passage we need to recover for a world where global forces create millions of migrants, and where rootlessness is epidemic, where, as Simone Weil says, “To be rooted is perhaps the most important and least recognised need of the human soul”.
The call to belong is as old as God’s call to Adam to tend and care for the garden. Disrupted by sin, it is re-affirmed in God’s choice of a particular people and the gift-on-loan of a place to belong to. It’s picked up by St. Paul, speaking in Athens: “From one man God made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us” (Acts 17:26-27). God has chosen the particular places we live, and there is something about those places that helps us to seek, reach out, and find God.
Christians should not have their hearts set on a ‘distant shore’ beyond this life and this earth. Rather we are called to be home-makers within our local patch. The French Reformer, Jean Calvin, said: “The creation is quite like a spacious and splendid house, provided and filled with the most exquisite and the most abundant furnishings. Everything in it tells us of God.” The Greek for home, ‘oikos’, is the root for ecology and economy, the household of nature and the use (or misuse) we make of it.
God’s invitation is for us to be fruitful and, as any gardener will tell you, you can’t produce fruit unless you have deep roots. So, do you know your place? Are you rooted in and nourished by your local environment? Do you belong? Do you know the soil of the garden you are called to tend? Do you seek and pray for the fruitfulness and flourishing of all the people and other creatures who share that place? One day, when Christ returns, we will know that “God’s home is now among his people” (Revelation 21:3), and we will be fully at home. As we seek to be more deeply rooted where God has planted us, may our homemaking be a good preparation for his homecoming.
‘Home’ was the theme for A Rocha’s 2013 Environment Resource Pack, available at atyourservice.arocha.org.
 Jean Calvin, Institutes, 1:20