Our heavenly home, home sweet home

I often dream of my childhood home. It is as though my mind is grounded in the place where I grew up.

My dreams consist of events happening today, but in the setting of my childhood home. I guess there truly is no place like home, so when Jesus’ disciples needed comfort, he appealed to their connection with home. 

As he prepared the disciples for the shock of the cross, He spoke of something familiar and told them I will come back for you.

John 14:2-3 says, “My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. “ 

During Advent, we celebrate and remember both the first coming of Jesus and the second coming of Jesus.

In the first coming, Jesus was born in Bethlehem as a child. In the second coming Jesus will be returning for us and there will be shouts of joy. John 14:2 uses the word “mansion” for “house” in some translations.

We sing songs (hymns) that refer to “mansions in the sky,” yet I think we miss the First Century idea this text references. It is not about a palace with few residents, but about a First Century home.  

People in Jesus’ time lived in extended family units. When two people became betrothed, the bridegroom would go to his home and add a room onto the house.

This would be the place where the newlyweds would live together after marriage. So, the bridegroom would start to work on the new room and the bride could not come into the home until it was finished. 

Even though they were considered legally married, she would not move in until the room was ready. Upon its completion, the groom would travel to the bride’s house to bring her to the wedding.  

The image is clear: The groom had a task to complete and the bride was to wait!

The groom went to prepare a place and then would return for the bride. In Jewish tradition, the father of the groom would declare when the room was finished, and it was not until then that the wedding ceremony could take place. 

So, when people asked the groom when the room would be finished, often the groom would respond with: “Only the father knows when.”  As it was intended for his early disciples, this concept gives me great comfort. 

Jesus is building a place for me. 

Jesus is building a place for you. 

God is adding rooms for us. 

When Jesus arrived the first time, we (humans?) we're not good at having a room ready. In fact, there was not even room at the inn. 

But Jesus, the lover of our souls, is preparing a place that is home. It is not a temporary place or a broken place. It is a place that is beyond our ability to comprehend. Yet it will be our home. Jesus’ return is going to usher us into the home we were meant for. 

We were meant to live in relationship with God and with one another. 

The restless feelings we have, anxiousness, and tears will all be wiped away when we arrive. And in the conclusion of that Advent, at the second coming of Christ, we will finally be home with our extended family, forever.

 

Rev. Patrick Evans is Senior Pastor of Hardy Memorial United Methodist Church in Texarkana, Texas. Pat and the rest of his congregation would love to have you come worship with them next time you are in the area, or join them anytime online, the online links are located on the front of their webpage.

A Closer Christmas is brought to you by the Communications Department of the Texas Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. To be considered as a future blogger, please contact Shannon W. Martin, Director of Communication at smartin@txcumc.org.