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Not yet home – Where are you from?

Date Tuesday, 1st November 2022

Preached by Nick Butcher

‘Where are you from?’ ‘Where’s home?’
What do I say? What does that mean?

Do they mean where my parents live? I’ve never really lived there. Do they mean where I was born? I didn’t live there for very long either. I can give a long answer, but that’s quite awkward. I haven’t even moved around as much as some people. And I don’t have to deal with the racial undertones that others deal with facing that question.

Every essay I wrote at university was in some way about location, space or geography. That wasn’t an intentional decision, it’s just what happened. My entire life has been lived with a sense of being unanchored from place. My family first moved when I was 11 months old. That means anywhere I remember living I’ve had a sense of not being from there. Of being different to the people who were from there. I didn’t have the accent, or the connections. I spent my childhood mostly in two places, but now my parents are someone else and I’ve not been back to the place we lived for the longest in 4 years. I think some people would say that that’s where I’m from. But I don’t feel like that’s where I’m from. I feel unanchored. It’s weird that we place such an emphasis on a feeling we find so hard to define, that our sense of place has such a profound impact on our lives.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t always feel unsettled. I’m pretty comfortable being somewhere new and I quite enjoy change. Different places I’ve lived have felt more like home than others. But those questions, ‘Where are you from? Where’s home?’ are still pretty loaded (though by all means keep asking them).

When I feel unanchored, I find comfort in reminding myself that it’s not just me who doesn’t feel at home. Our focus studies this term are helping us see that as God’s children we are those who are awaiting our forever, perfect home, with Christ in the new creation. Which is comforting news!

But it’s more than just God’s people who are waiting to go home.

In Ephesians 1 Paul gives us an insight into God’s purposes for the whole of history. That purpose is ‘to bring everything together in Christ, both things in heaven and things on earth in him’. God’s big plan is to unite all things under Christ. Being under Christ, being in his Kingdom is our true home. But because of the fall we’re not there yet. And it’s not just us. The plan is to bring all things together. All of heaven and earth. Everything is on a journey back home, back to Christ. Paul puts it this way in Romans 8: ‘creation eagerly waits with anticipation for God’s sons to be revealed’. Creation isn’t as it’s meant to be. It’s unsettled, unanchored. It’s waiting to come home. Eagerly longing for the fullness of Christ’s return, and our glorification alongside him.

God is working to bring everything home to him. All of creation. So, it’s good to know I’m not alone in my unanchored-ness, creation is unanchored too. In fact, it’s not surprising that I don’t have a strong sense of home, it’s not a shock that our sense of place is so important to us. It’s good to know that on my journey home I have good companions with me. Not just dear brothers and sisters in the faith, but the whole of creation is walking the same journey as me too.