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Posted by Jeremy Williams 0 Comments

We just moved my mom to a memory care facility in Muskegon. It was hard to organize and get her here, but she made it, and she’s settling in fine. Thanks to many of you for your prayers.

Along the way to leaving Iowa, she kept talking about her need to go “home.” It’s very common for people with dementia to talk about their need to get home, but it got me thinking about that profound human desire to get back to a place, a life, a time, where we had a perfect sense of belonging. It seems to come out of a gnawing sense that things just aren’t quite right, and the things in front of us don’t ring clear with memory and familiarity.

For Mother, home had lots of specific meanings, usually Wales, where she was born and grew up. At one point recently she was insisting that we had to find the tickets for the flight to London (the first big stop on the way to Wales). On the day before we left Iowa, a couple of old friends and her pastor stopped over for a visit. They said, “You’re going home tomorrow!” And we repeated it when we got her ready to go on Friday morning. In the middle of that night, when finally she could lie down in her new bed, I told her she was home. I hope it didn’t count as deceit. She is indeed in her new home, and I hope it will feel familiar soon.

Six months ago we moved to Muskegon, with the goal of making it our home, probably for the rest of our lives. It feels like home already, and our plan is only more sure now. But there’s this thing that Christians say: that we are only passing through, and that the world is never our home (Hebrews 13:14, 1 Peter 2:11-12). I expect that a part of Mother is longing for that final home in God’s embrace, even more than for Wales. She has been a follower of Jesus for longer than I’ve known her. Now, near the end of her life, it’s good that heaven is a place she wants to go.

I don’t normally spend much time thinking about life after death. At this point in my life, I’m more occupied with trying to live as God wants me to right now. I have a home where God has put me, a place where I have been given plenty of work to do. I know what the Lord requires of me and of all of us: to do what’s right, to practice kindness, and to humbly be followers of God (Micah 6:8). I know the commands: love God, and love my neighbor (Matthew 22:36-40). These are the basic tasks for anyone who seeks to be in relationship with God. For the people of Community United Methodist Church, these jobs have a home in Muskegon.

There are people in our congregation who have always lived lives of service in the community. What would it mean for our whole congregation to be in service? What if every small group, and every youth, and every old person, lived out our daily responsibility of caring for our neighbors in Muskegon? There are endless opportunities to serve, and great organizations that are already looking for volunteers like us. There are plenty of hurts that Christians need to be addressing. It begins, perhaps, with the acknowledgement that this town is our home. We have a responsibility for it. Not simply to make disciples for Jesus Christ here, but to make lives better and more livable here. We need to be struggling against hunger, against homelessness, against prejudice, against loneliness and hopelessness. We need to bring God’s great love home to Muskegon.

My mother is confusing heaven and the home that she remembers from long ago. For those of us who are more firmly rooted in this present life, our job is to make our home look more and more like heaven: to make it into a place where God’s loving will is done more and more. By the end of this new year, I hope we begin to see just what that would look like, here at home.

 

 

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