How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord of hosts!
My soul longs, indeed it faints for the courts of the Lord;
My heart and my flesh sing for joy to the living God.
I love this picture of Doug Haas Bennett. Her oldest son, Joel, tells me, that her great aunt and uncle sent Doug this kimono from Japan in the early 1930’s. Her daughter-in-law, Nancy, added that Doug continued to wear the kimono as an evening wrap. I love the way her eyes are strong and bright, looking directly into the camera, and her arms are stretched out, surely to show the beautiful flowing silk, but notice that her palms are also up, ready to receive all of the energy the world has to offer. I love that this early picture has echoes of her future – lover of fabric and costume, at home in her own skin and in the world. Doug died peacefully last night after another stroke left her unable to swallow and with severely limited speech. Today is a bitter sweet day. She will be dearly missed, just as we miss all the Saints we have loved and loss, but for Doug, all tears and discomfort have passed. She has been made new, a child of the Covenant, bright eyes, palms up and outstretched, ready to be received Home.
Home. It is a place. It is people. It is something we receive and something we shape and share. Home can be holy. It can be hard. This Sunday is Welcome Sunday, the Sunday we welcome students back to campus and back to church, their home away from home. Our theme this year is Home. The psalmist declares, “How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord of hosts!” In Church, the Body of Christ seeks to be a home that reflects the holy beauty of this Eternal Dwelling Place. Church is the place that we bring our infants for baptism, and we trust to teach our children the ways of faith. It is the place where we enter the covenant of marriage, ask for forgiveness when we break the ties that bind, and seek healing when we are the ones broken. It is the place where college students gather to eat and to study, to imagine what their future holds. Church is where we will gather to bear witness to our hope in the resurrection as we celebrate the lives of John Brake and Doug Haas Bennett.
Our souls long, indeed, we faint to know home, to feel embraced, loved, and freed to be ourselves, eyes strong and bright, palms turned up to receive God’s grace. Friends, this Sunday, every Sunday, I invite you to come home. Come find a place and a people where you can be at home – at home in your own skin and at home in the world, a place where your voice will join with others, singing in gratitude to the living God, our Home.