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01 July 2016

Un lugar celestial (a heavenly place)

Un lugar celestial (a heavenly place)

Simon Wilce is director of debt operations at Christians Against Poverty

I'm struck that for many people the recent referendum was about home.

"I'm happy with my home as it is. I don't want it to change."

"This is not the home I grew up with."

"This is not your home."

"Go home"

"Can I stay?"

"If I have to go back to my original country, will it still feel like home?"

Home: the place where one lives permanently, especially as a member of a family or household.

I have lived all of my life in this house so waking up last Friday - for better or worse - felt like something I'd never known. Something had changed. Was the feeling grief? Uncertainty? Possibility? Was this new home better or was it worse?

Some felt they had got their home back. Others felt they'd lost it, the sense of permanence and belonging to a family fundamentally shaken. Over the weekend it has been reported that some people have been stopped in the street and ordered to leave Britain. Many are now wondering at their status in this country.

I wonder what it's like for those people all over the world who wake up and find their country – their home – no longer there?  Their houses wrecked by storms or their government overthrown.

I wonder what it's like to no longer be able to live in your home, or not able to recognise it in the aftermath of an upheaval? How real must that grief be and deep the uncertainty.

I'm struck more for Christ followers as to where our real home is and should be. "Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us." 1 Peter 2:11-12.

"All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth." Hebrews 11:13.

We long ago voted for exit. What a sense of permanence and belonging to a heavenly place and unending family, all welcome and peace for all. This is where we stand in the midst of any era. Our house is unshakeable and unconquerable. It is this that attracts many in times of turbulence.

However, in the meantime we too continue on in a betwixt and between place: in the world, but no longer of the world, a people meant to live with uncertainty of place. Some Bible versions call us sojourners, someone who resides temporarily. I think that when the world we live in experiences upheaval it can remind Christ followers that they've put roots down too deeply; if we are moved too much then where did we think our home was?

Let's make sure that we do all to call as many in to our home as possible. It was Christ himself who sent people to the highways and the byways to bring people in. All invited into his home. After all it is a house of many rooms.

Luke 14:23: "Then the master told his servant: 'Go out to the roads and country lanes and compel them to come in, so that my house will be full.'"

Sometimes I realize when I gaze in the skies
 This spinning world is not my home
 A place of mystery, a land of destiny
 Is where I know one day I'll go
I dream of beauty I have never seen
 I know the arms of Heaven wait for me
 And yet I feel its sweetness here and now
 In this life on earth I have found

 Jaci Velasquez, Un Lugar Celestial

Image: CC Bernie Kasper