Saturday, February 23, 2013

Going home...a homily for Lent 2 C

At our Lent groups this year we are exploring Henri Nouwen's book “The return of the prodigal son” - a deep, sustained meditation on the parable as it's presented in the Rembrandt painting. On Thursday we focussed on what it means for the son to leave home, on his rebellion and his wanderings. We explored the ways that we too leave our true home with God, through the choices we make every day...and began to imagine what homecoming might mean for both son and father.
If that first session is anything to go on, I think we are in for an engaging and thought-provoking Lent.

Of course you'll have noticed that today's readings do NOT feature the prodigal son in any way shape or form...but they are, I think, very much about the journey home...and about that Love that invites us all to make our home with Him.

Our Genesis reading introduces us to Abram –already embarked on the journey of faith that transformed his life.
Abram and Sarai, a childless couple leaving home – on the strength of a promise that home and family lie ahead ..a family as numerous as the stars in the sky.
A family wedded to their land, but asked to leave it behind them...with no idea where they might finally settle.
It's either madness or faith – (have you noticed how often they seem rather similar!)..
but Abram “believed the Lord and the Lord reckoned it to him as righteousness”
and we know that in due time God's promises were made good, the gift of a child was given and a new homeland claimed.

Our journey too takes us to a new place...somewhere we never expected to find ourselves.
We too are asked to leave behind the ways in which we have sought security...
Our citizenship is in heaven” says Paul.
What a thought...that we might have a new identity, a transformed security found not in material things nor in human relationships but in the place that WE have been promised...and the central relationship that we can have with God.
One thing I have asked of the Lord; one thing I seek; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life to behold the fair beauty of the Lord....”
Those words from psalm 27 were printed on my ember card, when I was ordained priest – to encourage me to take a longer view...
When I'm in danger of getting bogged down by the demands of parish life, when I seem to be making all the wrong choices, when the voices in my head are telling me
This enterprise is doomed” then I need that reminder...that I, and those I care for, are travelling home to the place where we will see for ourselves the fair beauty of the Lord, the end of all our exploration

(With the drawing of this Love and the voice of this
We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.)

And while we are travelling, taking wrong turnings, mistaking our destination and being distracted by sights along the way ..what's going on for God?
The gospel makes that obvious
He is aching for us...reaching out with endless longing love...never forcing us but totally intent on drawing us to Him.
Jerusalem, Jerusalem...How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing”
Like any parent whose child has gone astray, God is straining forward, his one aim our homecoming.
God longs to shelter us in welcome us to our true home, the place where each one of us can be fully ourselves, where there is no need to wear a mask, no need to pretend...and no need to fear.

Do not be afraid Abram.....Kathryn......Eira.....Mary......June....”

Because, surely, home is the place where you are truly safe.
The place where you find sanctuary when life is tough...the place where you are always welcome, no matter what...

Do not be afraid.
You're on the way home...on the way to the place where you belong, the place where you are always welcome,
Lord you have made us for yourself and our hearts are restless til they find their rest in you”
wrote Augustine, no stranger to the excitements and struggles of life...

So journey through Lent in confidence.
Our road may be the way of the cross...for we are called to follow Jesus to Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets...but beyond the cross are the open arms of our Father who says to each one of us
Welcome home”

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks Kathryn, a lovely message for us all. Jacqueline x