May 5, 2013
Revelation 21:10,22 – 22:5
John 14:23-29“Home, home again. I like to be here when I can. And when I come home, worn and tired, it’s good to warm my bones beside the fire” – Pink Floyd
I am back in my Oklahoma hometown for the first time in about a year. The place I am from – while not small – has the feel of a small town. Everyone knows everybody’s everything. I get to catch up on everyone’s latest quips, quibbles and physical ills.
There was quite a while when, for various reasons, I did not go back home. Like many Gay people from Oklahoma, home was a place where I was from, but not a place I had any desire to go back to. It was like that for at least 15 years.
Home, nonetheless, persists in occupying a place in our bones. No matter what we remember about it, good or bad, it stubbornly remains a part of our spiritual DNA. When I shut out home, there was a large chunk of my life that turned into a question-mark, or a murky void that I just chose to ignore and focus resolutely on what was in front of me. What was in front of me, however, always bore the tell-tale hieroglyphs of the past. Things would trip me up, trigger odd feelings or associations, and I couldn’t explain why – until I went back home again. Then, the song of who I was sang out from every street corner, every old, weathered sign, and every conversation.
In the Gospel reading for this week, Jesus tells his Disciples during the Last Supper, “Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them” (John 14:23). A key part of keeping Jesus’ word is forgiveness (Matt 18:22; Matt 5:39), which is a thorny subject for many people. There are many who feel forgiveness is simply not an option for some people and communities in their lives.
However, my experience with forgiveness has taught me a couple of things: 1) Unforgiveness hurts the unforgiving person far more than the person who is unforgiven; and 2) Forgiveness occurs on God’s time-table, not on yours, mine or anyone else’s. Forgiveness is a part of Christ’s commandment, but we can’t dictate when it happens. We only know that when it happens, something that was fundamentally missing or out of joint is finally made whole again. We finally come home.
When we forgive, the Triune God makes a home with us, but the same God also makes it possible for us to go home again. And I can tell you, being back at home is a wonderful, peaceful feeling.
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you” (John 14:27).