Family Liturgies

John 14: A Dwelling Place

photoPrayer
Holy God, We believe that you are with us, that you live among us and in us. Help us to welcome you, to make space for you, in all the ways and places and people where you live. Amen.

Scripture Reading: John 14:18b-20, 23 (The Inclusive Bible)

Jesus said, “I will come back to you. A little while now and the world will see me no more, but you’ll see me; because I live, you will live as well. On that day you’ll know that I am in God, and you are in me, and I am in you…. Those who love me will be true to my word, and Abba God will love them, and we will come to them and make our dwelling place with them.”

Memory Verse

“I am in God, and you are in me, and I am in you.” –John 14:20

 

Thoughts on Scripture

Housed in two structures – a large brick house and another sort of multi-purpose building next door – on 12th Street in Kansas City is Cherith Brook, a Catholic Worker house whose residents are committed to simplicity, peacemaking, and hospitality. They’ve transformed their front slope of grass into a vegetable and herb garden, and chickens and bees populate the small backyard. The residents share their resources and their energy with one another and with the community around them, especially those experiencing need. Cherith Brook offers clothing, showers, haircuts, community meals, roundtable discussions on issues of justice, and more, to their neighbors.

And every once in a while, one of those neighbors who stops by doesn’t have a home to return to. When that happens, this community opens a room for them, for the two nights or two weeks or two months or whatever it takes for the neighbor to regain footing. Lots of people have this extra room in their house, with a bed and a nightstand that all stay pretty clean, reserved for those times when company comes to visit. We often call this space the “guest room.” At Cherith Brook, they call it the “Christ room.”

It’s a simple change, but a profound one. It’s a reminder that to welcome the stranger among us is to follow the commandments. It’s a reminder that Christ is alive in all the ways we show kindness to one another, all the ways we risk loving each other. It’s a reminder that especially in those who struggle, those who are often ignored, those who are most vulnerable among us, we can know God. In Matthew 25, Jesus commends those people who took him in when he was in need. They say, “But Lord, when did we do that? We don’t remember….” And he tells them, “Whenever you did it, you did it for me.”

 

Questions to Discuss

– Have you ever seen or experienced something that other people didn’t? How hard was it to explain your experience to them?

– Have you ever met someone who reminded you of Jesus? What was that person like?

– What is it like to share your home with someone – when you have a friend over to spend the night, or family comes to visit? What is your favorite part of being a guest in someone else’s home?

 

Spiritual Practice

We’re about to begin the season of Pentecost, when we celebrate God’s Spirit coming to enliven and inspire us. How might God’s Spirit come to “make a dwelling” in you, or your family, this season?

One image for the Spirit of God is a dove. Why not build a birdhouse to hang in a tree in your yard or a nearby park? There are instructions here. As you hang it and wait for new friends come to make their dwelling with you, you can say a prayer:

God, we give thanks for the delight of your presence and the beauty of your world. Teach us to tend gently to all in our care. Amen.

Or, think about what makes your home a place where you feel welcome and safe and loved. Maybe it’s a favorite book, the smell of fresh-baked goodness from the oven, an abundance of blankets. Find a place like Cherith Brook near you, and share some of these “homey” treasures with them and the guests they welcome.

–by Erika Marksbury

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