“Welcome one another, therefore, just as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.” — Romans 15:7
Someone recently asked me why we decided to relocate to Florida. I smiled, shrugged, and said simply, “It’s home.” Florida was home for me from 1990-2009, and it was time to come back. This question, and my answer, caused me to reflect on the concept of home. I lived in a wonderful community in Massachusetts for nine years, was it home? The jury is still out.
For me, home is familiar. Home is landing at the Tampa airport, then driving across the Howard Franklin bridge from Tampa to Pinellas County to my parents’ house. Now, home is driving over the Skyway Bridge, down I-75, and getting off at Exit 111, this is all home. I lived in St. Petersburg, Sarasota (twice), Venice, and now Naples. This stretch of the West Coast of Florida is home, and I presume it always will be. Home is comfortable and familiar. Home is where I can exhale because I can easily locate myself. I’m oriented, I know where I am, and where my people are.
Most people who reside in Naples didn’t grow up here, didn’t spend most of their lives here. Many people call elsewhere home. Can Naples ever be home if you spend part of the year elsewhere, if your kids and grandkids aren’t here, or if this isn’t where you built your family? Some people move around so much throughout their lives that there isn’t one place they can point to and call it home.
So, here’s my challenge to us, can the church help us create a sense of place, meaning, and belonging here in Naples? Can we be a community in which, when we are together, we know we’re with our people, and that there’s a place for us? That’s what home is after all, safety, security, and comfort, isn’t it? Notice I didn’t say perfect. Home isn’t perfect. We don’t always love every aspect of our home, we might not always get along with everyone in our home, but we do know that we belong, and we are accepted just as we are. Can church be home?
Prayer Focus: For Everyone Who Wants a Home
Prayer: Ever-Present God, Jesus offered and received hospitality throughout his ministry. Help us to work together to create a congregation that feels safe, familiar, and comfortable. Help our church be a home. Amen.