The world is not my home

I gave ministry this week towards the end of worship. It had been a popcorn meeting, with insufficient space between political rants about the debt ceiling. But I was called to stand, to add one more voice to the mix before we rose.

I was thinking about home as meeting for worship began. Specifically, I was thinking about how I feel like an outsider in most places in my life. There are a couple of songs that reference the idea that home is something that comes after that rose up for me, one being a Sarah Jarosz cover of a Tom Waits tune, "Come on up to the house", which has the line: "The world is not my home, I'm just passing though". Another was Amazing Grace, with the stanza:
Through many dangers, toils, and snares
have I already come.
'Twas Grace that brought me safe thus far
and Grace shall lead me home.
It's not that uncommon to think about home as being elsewhere, and for me, that sense of home is located pretty firmly in the New Creation. When I was recounting my ministry last night to a friend who had missed Meeting on Sunday, but had heard that I had spoken and asked me about it, I needed to clarify what I meant by the New Creation. What I'm referencing here is a passage from Fox's journal:
Now I was come up in spirit through the flaming sword, into the paradise of God. All things were new; and all the creation gave unto me another smell than before, beyond what words can utter. I knew nothing but pureness, and innocency, and righteousness; being renewed into the image of God by Christ Jesus, to the state of Adam, which he was in before he fell. The creation was opened to me; and it was showed me how all things had their names given them according to their nature and virtue.

Fox had this experience of the paradise of God, of being taken up into the Garden of Eden as it was before the fall. My sense of this is that this is the Kingdom of Heaven and that we can access the Kingdom, through Grace, here on Earth.

My message continued, that as I was sitting in the silence, I was thinking about how I find that those times when I have been permitted to glimpse this paradise, this sense of rightness and pureness are when I have been submissive and obedient to the will of God.

So I did the only thing I could think of. I asked God to give me something to do and almost immediately, it was made clear to me that a small task that was already on my to-do list was a Thing I Needed To Do. Knowing that I had a small, manageable, actionable Thing, as well as knowing that God was listening to me in my time of need made me feel incredible grateful for His Love, for His Presence in my life.

Elizabeth Bathurst


Anonymous said...

i've always loved the following sentiment, beautifully expressed:


a quote from the poet Thomas Traherne:

You never enjoy the world aright,
till the Sea itself floweth in your veins,
till you are clothed with the heavens, and crowned with the stars:
and perceive yourself to be the sole heir of the whole world,
and more than so, because men are in it who are every one sole heirs as well as you. "First Century, Meditation 29"


that's just one stanza of a longer poem. you can find one version of that longer poem at the beginning of this file:

(i'm not sure the above is the officially correct version, as i've seen other versions i think, but it's close and i could find that link again quickly.)


Bill Samuel said...

This is an important message. Too often Christians get it somewhat skewed so they think of this "home" as something that's just available when our physical body dies. A key insight of Quakers (not, of course, unique to Quakers) is that this "home" is a present reality which Christ has given us the power to experience.

RichardM said...

And your Dad would sometimes sing "this world is not my home, I am bound to cross the river, just a poor wayfaring stranger passing through." It always seemed strange to me how that line went well with "Tis well I've loved this land, rolling hills and fertile valleys, I have marveled at their beauty all my days." Both are true. The kingdom of God is both here and not yet. When we see that it is "not yet" we feel like stangers in a stange, screwed up world. When we see the kingdom actually breaking through, we feel alive and at home. But for me these feelings of being at home tend to be pretty fleeting and the feeling of being lost in a fallen, broken world tends to hit pretty hard when it does.