|Our new house, in the snow!|
On my very first Sunday here, I preached in worship, and afterwards I had three families offer to host me for brunch, lest I feel lonely or ignored. That evening, I visited the high school youth group, and afterwards, the youth and family director invited me to join him at a friend's house for board games and hanging out. And at the board-game-hangout, this friend of the youth director invited me to a birthday party for two of his kids the following weekend. I was blown away by the warmth, welcome, and hospitality of this new church home.
Two Sundays ago, I presided over the liturgy for the first time in this new church. As part of the presiding role, I began worship with a word of welcome. I heard myself say the words "Welcome to First Lutheran Church, and a special welcome to visitors." And I realized that I was extending the hospitality of someone else's home. I'm still in a place where I am being welcomed, and yet I have the privilege of welcoming others into God's space. It's beautiful. And confusing.
We are currently house-sitting for members of the congregation, which allowed us to "move" into town before we had a house of our own. We are getting more and more comfortable there, but it has yet to feel like home, no matter how much laundry is strewn about the bedroom floor. But we have grown accustomed to the wild turkeys gathering outside the window, and the cardinals who visit the bird-feeder outside the living room window, and the fridge is full of our own food.
Yesterday, we closed on our own house. All of our belongings are still living in Chicago until next week, so we're not living there yet. The rooms are empty and clean, full of potential. It won't feel like ours until we have our stuff there, and it won't feel like home until we've started building a real life here, full of our own patterns and habits.
Tonight, I ate dinner at the home of a wonderful couple from church - she is on the church council, he was on my call committee. It was absolutely lovely. Conversation and laughter with kindred spirits. How beautiful to be invited into someone's home, and how beautiful to spend time with people who help make this new place feel like home.
I'm not sure quite what the connecting thread is between all of these anecdotes, other than to say that even in transition, even while we're still working to put down roots and create a life here in this new place, it is hospitality that makes this new place feel like home. For someone like me, who thrives on patterns and habits and feels anxious without a place to call my own, I crave these moments of hospitality, and look forward to finding ways that I can extend it to those around me.
Where there is hospitality, there is home.