O eternal God, who settest the solitary in families and fillest the hungry with good things, visit this home and family with thy grace and favor; knit them together in thy love through good times and bad, bless their comings in and their goings out, give them thankful hearts for their daily bread and for each other, and bring them at the last into thy heavenly dwelling place; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
This favorite prayer by Robert Rodenmayer, author of “The Pastor’s Prayerbook,” is particularly poignant for me right now. Our home for the past 21 years is now on the market and soon we will be moving. The news of my election as bishop of Bethlehem was met with elation and pride by my family, yet the reality of leaving a beloved family home has been bittersweet for all of us–more difficult for me than I ever imagined. In hopes of easing some of the loss associated with this transition, I asked our four children and three grandchildren to share their favorite memories of our home. Of course this was done via a group text message, and the steady “dinging” signaled another memory that brought needed laughter, smiles and even a few tears. Here is some of what they shared:
The time that we thought our brand new car was stolen from our garage. Lo and behold a neighbor discovered it teetering on the hill in front of our house. Apparently we forgot to put on the emergency break and it rolled down the driveway! The police officer arrived and couldn’t stop laughing.
The day Lindsay received word that an organ donor was located and she needed to board an Angel Flight to Pittsburgh for a transplant! Off she and her mom went with the prayers of so many.
The annual Easter egg hunt – there was no mercy for the little ones or even a pregnant mom! Everyone in search of the golden egg.
As we reminisced through the many memorable moments of the last two decades, it became helpful to see that some of these are traditions that can be carried on or even re-created in some form in a new home or a new place. We were also reminded of God’s many blessings. That in our “comings in” and our “goings out,” God was somehow knitting us together–strengthening us for the journey that lies ahead. When we paused, we were reminded that this place, this home, provided us a safe haven where we could be ourselves whether we were at our best or not. Here we were nourished, fed and reminded how much we are loved and need each other’s love.
For me, this is not unlike the knitting together that occurs in our churches–our spiritual homes. As I prepare to say goodbye to my larger community as well, I am reminded of so many joy filled traditions that have grounded me, held me together, warmed my heart and strengthened my soul. What would we be without our homes–spiritual and otherwise? Today I give thanks for the many people who have opened their homes for me and my family. Today I begin to let go of my hold on one home and reach out to another. I can’t wait to see what God has in store.
In God’s Love,