What does 'Home' mean to you?

The Revd Hannah Cartwright

Where is home for you?

Perhaps home is a place which you come from - an area, a building or a childhood house or perhaps it is a place you go to when you are feeling vulnerable.Or perhaps home is a feeling that you get when you arrive somewhere important to you: comfort, familiarity, safety. Or perhaps it is a gathering - being among ‘your people’, the ones who ‘get’ you and who you can relax and be yourself with. But sometimes of course some of the places we call ‘home’ have not always been the safe or affirming places they should have been for us. Many of us know only too well that a house is not automatically the same thing as a home. Some of us have also experienced the trauma of losing our homes or of being made homeless.

Homelessness is a deep injustice in our society. We were shown by the ‘everyone in’ policy during covid that it categorically is possible (should we put proper resource into it) to ensure that everyone has a roof over their heads. It is the active will of those who make decisions from the comfort of their home office or who go back to a comfortable bed at night, not to prioritise continuing this kind of initiative and giving everyone the opportunity for safe shelter in society. We can end homelessness but we choose not to. Homelessness is not an identity, it is a circumstance - yet we still treat so many people in that situation in dehumanising ways.

We alone cannot solve the problem of homelessness, without the (literal) concrete action of those who steward this nations resources. We may not individually be able to provide housing (although many have through opening their homes under recognised and properly regulated asylum schemes), but we can help to make this church a home for everyone.

Because home is neither a place, nor a people, nor a feeling (although at their best those things do represent something of the essence of ‘home’) but home is in-fact a relationship. It is not temporal, spatial or circumstantial: home is (as the saying goes) where your heart is. And God’s heart is with his people: wherever they are, especially when they find themselves in tough times and in need of love and community. God is home because God is Love: Love that is dependable, love that does not rely on us or how we are at the time, love that is there waiting to welcome us home and love that IS home. Home found in relationship. We are God’s people and so are those who find themselves without a home: let’s be their ‘people’,their ‘safe space’, their community of comfort to which they can return; not on our own as individuals but as a whole supportive church and community who choose to stretch out our arms to embrace every child of God who needs a relationship with the One who is truly our refuge.

Professor Willie James Jennings has been speaking powerfully on the topic of home and habitation through the Bampton Lectures and on Sunday afternoon at 3.30pm there will be a special service of choral evensong, at which he will preach. This will be followed by a brief housing justice reception to speak to Professor Jennings and to hear from volunteers within our own congregation. This is for all who are interested in how we can make this church and city a place all can call home.

Please do come along and encourage others to hear their powerful words on this topic.