Pentecost 5C – Leaving Home
June 26-27, 2010
“Foxes have holes,
and birds of the air have nests;
but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.”
Even animals in nature instinctively build homes for themselves,
holes, nests, dens, burrows,
but the Son of Man – Jesus — he remains without a home.
So he asks those who say they’d like to follow him –
are you sure?
Are you really sure?
Do you know what you’re giving up?
Most of us like the things associated with our homes.
The word ‘home’ fills us with warm fuzzy feelings.
We are attracted to restaurants which advertise home-cooking,
or home-style service.
We root for the home team –
I imagine I’m not the only one who wanted the United States to win
but wanted Ghana to make a good showing at the World Cup soccer match yesterday too,
After all, it was the last African team – the last home team
in the running this year.
“Home” is important.
And our hearts are touched when we hear of people without one.
When we hear of foster children who are shuttled from place to place.
Or when we hear of people who have lost their homes in the mortgage crisis.
Or when we hear of seniors who have to leave their homes because they can’t care for them or themselves any longer.
The place we call ‘home’ has a great impact on the rest of our lives.
Where we live, determines where our children go to school.
It determines how far we need to go for services –
– to the hospital, to get groceries,
and in some places in the world – to get water.
The neighborhoods in which we live,
determine how safe we feel and the people we hang around with.
The quality of our homes can affect our health,
and whether or not we are exposed to toxins
such as asbestos, lead, or molds.[i]
And yet, Jesus, says,
to follow him is to be willing to give up what we call home.
Last week, 18 of our high school youth and 4 adults
left home and traveled to South Webster, Ohio
to help make home a safer, healthier, better place to be
for lots and lots of people.
Some of them met Marie, a widow in her late 80’s
who lives in an old farmhouse in Wheelersburg, OH .
Marie loved having us there — mostly I think because of the company.
She was a storyteller and after having lived in the
same house for over 80 years,
she had lots of stories to tell
about each and every object in the house.
There was a story about the red potholder in the kitchen;
a story about the delicate figurine of a ballet dancer in the window;
there was even a story about the commode – which I won’t share.
The house has been in her family since before the Civil War.
We saw pictures of her ancestors on the wall.
And because work teams built a wheelchair ramp for her last week,
she’ll be able to continue to live there
with her stories surrounding her, and not move to a nursing home.
What a difference that week made in her life!
Another woman named Phyllis lives in Portsmouth, OH.
When she was told that a group of teen workers
would be coming to her home to help fix it up –
she couldn’t believe it.
She called the organizers every day
the previous week to be sure it was true!
Really? They’re coming to my house? For free?
And when they did arrive, she cried.
She lives in the oxycontin capital of the world.
Dealers of that prescription pain killer
are on nearly every corner of her neighborhood.
It’s hard to trust neighbors when there is so much drug use
and then theft to support the habit.
Phyllis said that she continually looks out the window
to see if anyone is taking something from her yard.
She considers a car slowing down in front of her house
to be a potential burglar until proven otherwise.
She didn’t usually converse much with her neighbors,
but when the work crew needed more ladders,
a neighbor offered hers.
What did the youth bring to Phyllis?
Sure they fixed her house –
they did a great job scraping and painting and fixing the deck.
But I think the greatest gift they brought her was trust.
They showed up when she’d almost
given up that anyone could care about her.
They respected her property when it didn’t
seem like anyone else did.
And they brought her in relationship with her neighbors again
when she had felt isolated.
As the commercial says:
Paint – $20
Wood for Deck – $200
Trust in God’s love working in humanity – Priceless
Home at its best is comfortable and safe –
I imagine that even the animals find it so in their
holes, nests, burrows, and dens.
Yet Jesus today calls us to be willing to leave home
to leave the places where we feel most safe and comfortable –
to follow him.
I don’t think it’s a coincidence that
many of our biblical heroes have been homeless…
Remember Abraham and Sarah who left their home
in search of the promised land.
Remember the Israelites wandering in the desert for 40 years
without a home.
Remember Mary and Joseph fleeing into Egypt in the opposite direction of home,
after being warned in a dream.
And remember the Son of Man – Jesus –
who took to the road himself, having no place to lay his head –
and who asks his followers
to be willing to give up that which makes
them safe and comfortable too.
think about what it would mean
for you leave home….