Greetings from the Mid-Atlantic! This past week, Becca and I packed up the family and drove the 500 miles to spend some time with her folks, here on the banks of the Nanticoke River in southeast Maryland. As a born-and-bred New Englander, no matter how many times we make this journey, I find that I cannot help but feel that I remain a "stranger in a strange land", here on these flatlands of the Chesapeake Bay watershed. It's funny, the subtle but significant things that distinguish one region from another; the flora and fauna (walnut and sycamore trees in the yard, cicada bugs chirping in the afternoon heat), the regional retail brands (when's the last time you shopped at a Food Lion supermarket?), the local foods and dialects and social sensibilities. Even the air feels just a little bit different to me, here.
Over the past few days, I've spent some time considering the significance of these little distinctives and differences to how we come to understand the concept of "home", often at a subconscious level. These nuances of place that constantly remind me that I am NOT home, here, are quite often the same things that spark for Becca those feelings of warmth and familiarity that come with BEING home, having been raised here. We are creatures who are wired for a sense of place, more so than we often appreciate. And, those places and spaces that our hearts come to set apart as "home", for us, can shape us at a deep level.
This coming Sunday, as we continue pressing into the Psalms, we will meditate upon the words of Psalm 84. In it, the psalmist identifies that longing for a HOME which, for the people of God, runs deeper and more formatively than any geographic, tribal or regional affiliation; the home we find, alongside one another, in the courts of worship of our God and King. For the psalmist, though the circumstances of life may remove us from land and tribe - though in the footsteps of the Lord, we may even wander for a time in the wilderness - it is not land or tent or tribe, but WORSHIP that is the heart's true home and longing; the worship of the Lord our God. And, by the grace and Spirit of God, this is a home that we always have the privilege of drawing near to, even as we wait upon that day when the courts of Heaven will be established in our midst in fullness.
I will say it again; for the follower of Jesus, there is no "ordinary" Sunday. For it is in the community of worship; the ministry of the Word, the praise of His people, the fellowship of his Table, that we come HOME, together, week after week. We do so in reality, and also in hopeful anticipation. As such, I look forward to celebrating our homecoming-in-worship, with you, this Sunday!