When we started packing to move, we often stopped to remember all the good times in our thirty-plus years there. At the bedroom with a bookshelf anchored to the wall, we smiled as we thought of Mike reading to all four boys. Our daughter Laura reminisced about the joy of finally having her own room, complete with pink carpet and wallpaper with colorful hearts. We groaned as we discovered Erik’s rock collection. We recalled Christmas mornings and favorite dinners. We talked, laughed, and were often teary-eyed. However, now that it’s been well over two months of cleaning, packing, and moving, I’m over it. This old house is no longer our home, and I’m ready to sell it. Four walls and a roof functions as a house, but a home is where love dwells.
In today’s Gospel, the Sixth Sunday of Easter, Jesus prepares the disciples for His departure. He’s not abandoning them in the brick and mortar of earthly dwelling, but promises to be with them: "Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him.” In his commentary on the Gospel of Luke, theologian John Shea explains, “The disciples realize Jesus and Father are intimately linked, and they are not strangers or even visitors to their lives. They are permanent residents in the house of their being. The Father and Son are making a home in them. To love Jesus and to keep his word is to be inhabited by his Father.”
This indwelling, this place of mutual love between the Father and the Son, poured forth through the Holy Spirit, aids Jesus’ disciples in keeping His word. But what is Jesus’ word? Love—unconditional and sacrificial. Love is never of our own fruition, but always the Spirit’s indwelling, compelling us to love and serve—especially when difficult. There have been days when I felt far from God, yet somehow responded to a negative situation with love. I now realize the Spirit, dwelling within, produced the needed patience.
Each house becomes a domestic church, a church of the home, through this divine indwelling. Parents and grandparents name grace—God’s indwelling presence—by praying, forgiving, and loving in the home. We speak of God’s indwelling in the heart of each child and the need to listen and respond to the Spirit’s call to love. God dwells when we care tenderly for each member in the home, as well as serving neighbors and strangers. God dwells, and our hearts and homes are filled with peace and joy.
In the song, A House Is Not a Home, by Burt Bacharach and Hal David, a heartbroken person spills out her sorrow: “And a house is not a home when there's no one there to hold you tight.” Yes, a house is not a home without love—God’s love. God’s Spirit, dwelling within, makes any house (a single person or a large family) a home—open to the will of God—urging each disciple to reach out in love.
As my husband and I take up residence in our new house, it is already feeling like home. Friends came for dinner and we laughed together around the table in the new kitchen. Our grandchildren giggled as they played kickball in the new backyard. We planted tulips and blessed doors. God dwells in our new house. We are at home. Now, that’s good news!
Photo by Brigitte Tohm on Unsplash
How have you experienced the Spirit’s indwelling in your domestic church?
How will you help your child realize the indwelling nature of God?
Naming Grace in the Domestic Church reflects on Scripture through the lens of a parent/grandparent. To connect with Mary Pedersen: www.marypedersen.com
The blog on this page presents reflections on the Sunday readings through the lens of a parent/grandparent, aiding leaders of the domestic church in their vital task as “first heralds” or “first preachers” of the Good News in the home.