This month my family begins renovating the house that is to shortly become our home. It is already our house (well the bank’s house – we just mow the lawns!) but it will be a few weeks before it comes our home. It will become our home not when we have received the keys (which we now have), not when we have finished the building and painting work to add our personal touches (which we have not!), but rather when it becomes the site, the staging point of the patterns of our shared family life.
When it hosts us for the morning coffee.
When it shelters us from the rain while we enjoy a board game together.
When it holds the storms of our arguments and the the warmth of our welcome-homes.
Just as the structure of the house requires solid, stable foundations, the foundations of the home do so too. Simply being in the space together, living individual lives in each other’s vicinity does not foster the growth of family, of home. It takes care, intentionality and shared values – the upholding of which can be aided greatly by the sharing of a common heritage.
For its life so far, Manningham Uniting Church has been building and growing its sense of family, its sense of home in the wholly relational sense, and it now comes to a time of building a physical house for itself. This house will act as a site, a staging point for the patterns of our shared family life. But attention must remain on the fostering and upholding of growth of this family, or the relational sense of home as community – as church.
…and what are its foundations?
This family home is built on the life, stories and teachings of Jesus.
If Jesus is the foundation of this home it is worth considering what practices of our community patterns were instituted by Jesus? When we gather together (as faith family) what is it that we do that was instituted by Jesus?
Its not the singing – we know that King David was a fan of singing praise and music well before Jesus’ time.
Its not the praying – clearly this was a common faith practice Jesus also inherited.
Arguably Jesus only gave his followers two explicit instructions on what to do when they gathered: Share a meal in remembrance of him (which we do in Communion/Eucharist/the Lord’s Supper) and wash each other’s feet (which we almost never do).
Apart from those two practices, everything else Jesus instructed his followers to do was about their behaviour and attitudes in all aspects of their lives, ‘out there’ at mission.
This is the call we reflect with our desire to be a ‘Monday to Sunday’ church, not simply a family who coexist in the vicinity of each other during worship once a week.
The foundation of this home is the call to get out of the house!
We can remodel the house as much as is necessary to respond to the discerned needs of the times, as long as it remains firm on the foundations of the family home.