"For this reason I bow my kneeds
to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
from whom the whole family in Heaven and Earth is named"
the whole family in Heaven and Earth . . .
A few weeks ago, God fulfilled a lifelong dream of travelling to Africa to help children in poverty. I flew across the Atlantic Ocean, switched planes across Europe, crossed the Mediterranean Sea, and sped over hours and hours of rock and sand in the Sahara Desert until finally landing in the tiny, crowded country of Burundi. And what did I find there? My God, the one true living God, active and worshipped by a thriving community of believers. I was at home there in the community of God's people.
Just like here.
Except a little different. There, it is appropriate to talk to everyone around you. It is right to greet everyone in the room, and to shake each hand. The markets and buses are full, body-to-body. You don't have personal space, and honestly it's kind of refreshing not to have to worry about staying out of everyone else's physical and emotional bubbles!
When I said goodbye, they sent greetings.
"Greet everyone, your parents first of all. Greet the believers in America. Tell them the brothers and sisters here greet them in the name of Jesus Christ."
Then last weekend at the Emmaus Walk - I mean Grace Young Adult Chrysalis Journey #5 - coming together with brothers and sisters from all around Kentucky and Tennessee to love on twenty-five young women and lead them closer to the Father, it was there again, this sense of community: "the whole family."
I think of the greetings at the end of every letter in the Bible.
Then there were Paul's journeys.
"And finding disciples, we stayed there seven days. . . .
We came to Ptolemais, greeted the brethren, and stayed with them one day. . . .
And when we had come to Jerusalem, the brethren received us gladly. . . .
At Sidon, Julius gave Paul liberty to go to his friends and receive care. . . .
And the next day we came to Puteoli, where we found brethren, and were invited to stay with them seven days. And so we went toward Rome. And from there, when the brethren heard about us, they came to meet us."
And then today, reading in 1 Corinthians, I found this beautiful verse:
"To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all who in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours."
Why is it that the Christian feels at home so many places all over the world, wherever his brothers and sisters are? Could it be because this world is not our home, but Heaven is, and wherever God's people are gathered it is a little taste of that Home?