“It’s a privilege to sit next to you tonight.” Pastor Brian encouraged the congregation to say to one another. I wondered for a moment about what sort of sincerity I could muster in the moment, and then spoke the words before I could ponder too much further. In this place I’m always amazed at the collision of stories and voices. We’ve all come through days and weeks and months and years that have shaped us and yet we stood together in the same room tonight, and we sang praises to our God together.
It truly is a privilege to sit next to anyone at Newtown Mission. There is a richness and reality to people that draws you in. Tonight, I spoke of superheroes with someone. He’s writing a story about a superhero, and I asked him what made his superhero want to fight for the good. He turned to me with a smirk and asked, “What makes you want to fight? What makes you come here each week?”
“I guess I just want to serve.” I replied with a shy shrug.
The man laughed and said, “There’s always more to the story. You just told me a superhero doesn’t just fight for the good for no reason. What’s your reason?” he had a smirk on his face, as if he were daring me to tell him the truth.
Here’s the truth:
Home is a hard word for me because it always feels out of reach. It feels like an unattainable goal and comfort that, if I’m honest with you, I never expect to experience before Jesus comes back. Home is such a beautiful concept, but I just can’t grasp it. On Thursday nights, serving food and talking to people, I feel a little bit at home.
Because I think that, maybe, all these people around me are searching for the same thing I am – a little piece of home in a world that feels so chaotic. The chaos that often swirls around my mind stills and conversation calms my pounding heart. I vividly remember sleeping on an air mattress in a friend’s home office; the first night I slept there I lay on the wobbly mattress and wondered how the heck I had gotten there. It had been two months since I was kicked out of home and this was the fourth place I’d slept since then. My friend’s son had asked why I didn’t stay with my family, and he replied with a simple, “We’re her family.” and his son was satisfied. I lay on that air mattress wondering if this was as close to home as I’d get – an air mattress, in a home office, surrounded by people that I knew loved me. It was more than I could have expected, really.
On Thursday nights I’m reminded of those months of couch surfing. I’m reminded of the transient nature of what we call ‘home’ and always draw near to God, in hopes that people who know no home might find a home among us, that as our stories collide we could see in each other something of the community God calls His people.
“It’s a privilege to sit next to you tonight,” I told the man sitting next to me, and he smiled and said the same to me, and I couldn’t help but think that these moments are a glimpse of the home I so desperately wish I knew. These moments will do for now. But, I do find myself mumbling the words “come, Lord Jesus, come..” all too often in between times.
Home. What a word.