Last November, I was asked to write an essay for the Witness student publication at Asbury. The issue's theme was "Making a Home at Asbury", and so with reflections on "home", my thoughts wander back to this submission as Lisa and I, as well as others within our larger community, continue to envision the future. Not knowing when (or if) the Witness will be published, I post it here....
Not Having a Home At Asbury
You did not have a home.
There were places You visited frequently,
Took off Your shoes and scratched Your feet
Cause You knew that the whole world belonged to the meek,
But You did not have a home.
Friends, we can choose to make a home wherever we journey, but our challenge remains: must we hold so tightly as to make it something we "have"? As we sojourn for a time within the educational community of Asbury, I presume that our response would be primarily shaped by our desire to pursue the Kingdom of God. I write of my own pursuit in the hopes of encouraging and challenging us all toward an accountable, welcoming, missional life, engaged in God's care for the marginalized.
Shortly after coming here three years ago, I moved into a large house in downtown Lexington where I presently live with a married couple, three single men, and one single woman. In choosing to make our home together, we have covenanted with each other for mutual accountability. By living in common, we invite one another to the honesty of invasive questions and vulnerable answers, and so share with one another the challenges, struggles, and encouragement of living openly.
We have also corporately committed to making our home a place of hospitality. In response to Scripture's call, we hope to welcome those whom society might commonly label "unwelcome". We have particularly designated a bedroom in the house as space to host a guest "in transition," whether that be someone in recovery from addiction, in attempting to break the cycle of homelessness, or in need of special care. In general, we have also individually committed ourselves to making our "own" space a welcoming one to refugees, migrant workers, and folks from the street.
In an understanding of our engagement with the transformative mission of God in our local context, we have also sought to bring the Story and Life of the gospel of Christ into our neighborhood and immediate relational networks. Our home becomes a "sending point" as through tangible reconciling work and intentional words of redemption we offer up to others the same salvation we have received.
Friends, as we make a home in our time here at Asbury, I would invite each of us to hold loosely to the cultural expectations of independence, security, and family. I challenge us to live together as a people of God in interdependence, openness, and radical hospitality. Perhaps, even, as a Kingdom people we might go so far as to make a home here, not as something we "have", but as something we give away.
Birds have nests, foxes have dens,
But the hope of the whole world rests
On the shoulders of a homeless man
You had the shoulders of a homeless man.
You did not have a home.- Rich Mullins