Wednesday, April 20, 2005

"Home Is Anywhere You Are"

The best wedding I've ever been privileged to witness was that of an old friend of mine -- someone who, after a disastrous marriage and acrimonious divorce in his early 20's, had remained resolutely single and commitment-phobic until he hit the big 5-0 and finally met his ladylove, a woman with her own story of heartache and disappointment. With apologies to anyone out there who married young and happy and has stayed that way -- I always find more profundity in marriages between older couples...people who like the Velveteen Rabbit have had their fur rubbed off, so to speak, by the vicissitudes of life, but who have hung in there, kept hope alive and finally found someone to share the journey.

It was a splendid, low-key, grownup wedding, with a beautiful sermon that talked about a mature love grounded in the shared experience of knowing pain, disappointment and loss but also rich in faith and hope for the future. We guests were already reaching for the Kleenex when my friend, who also happens to be a musician, brought out his guitar and serenaded his bride with the folk ballad by Tom Paxton, "Home is Anywhere You Are," and the collective waterworks really started to flow. ("Definitely a three-hankie wedding," one of our mutual friends sniffled approvingly afterward.)

The Gospel lesson for Sunday brought that song to mind for me. When we hear about the Father's house with many mansions, perhaps our first inclination is to think about heaven -- which is indeed a valid way to understand what Jesus means -- but as one commentary pointed out the text also implies, here and elsewhere, the sense of indwelling with God, and by extension with Jesus Christ, not only in the hereafter but in the here and now.

One of the paradoxes of Christianity is that, while we experience life as pilgrim people -- strangers in a strange land (some days even more than others) -- in a sense we're always home. Because we are always in Christ -- our lives always, as Scripture puts it, hidden in Christ.

"Home is Anywhere You Are." And that's a good place to be.

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