“Home is Where the Heart Is”
Rev. Dr. Sherrie Connelly
September 15, 2019
New Church of Montgomery
Pliny the Elder <23-79 AD> who lived in the first century was a Roman author, naturalist, and nature philosopher. He was also an army commander. He wrote Naturalis Historia, considered to be the 1st encyclopedic work. He is credited with coining our message title, “Home is Where the Heart Is.”
Home can be a physical place such as where you were born and grew up with your family and friends. It can also be where you happen to live now, as well as your actual home, apartment or other domestic dwelling. One might think of this as Swedenborg’s level of the natural.
Home can be a sense of place, as well as a cluster of feelings and experiences such as belonging, kinship and being at home, as if in a heavenly place…remembering ancestors, and rejoicing in the familiarity of close ties. (Here Rev. Sherrie talks about how when people ask where her home is she puts her hand on her heart. Also mentioned is that of the many places she has lived that were homes, Cincinnati is also one. She also mentions taking a trip to all the places she has lived in the order that she lived there and the smells that came back to her and the feeling of the learning that took place in each of these places and how it brought her the next location.)
Home can also be understood as celestial, in that the spirit and human form has come down from above and will return to the celestial realms for a life of eternity.
Today, the New Church of Montgomery is celebrating our annual Homecoming. We are delighted to be with you together and to welcome you to our worship and our feast. It is a joy to see and greet friends from near and far, and to worship our beloved Lord together.
In our scripture reading from Jeremiah, however, there is barren desolation and no sense of home at all. Psalm 14 also speaks of all who have gone astray, and bring afraid of the evil-doers. Yet, the Lord offers refuge to the poor and the psalmist prays that Israel will be delivered and its people’s fortunes restored. In Exodus we hear of the people worshipping a golden calf. The Lord says to Moses — how stubborn and stiff necked the people are, yet holds out hope that Moses will create a new and great nation. Instead Moses beseeches the Lord not to destroy his people, but to change his mind and restore favor.
Psalm 51 is a confession of sin, and acknowledgement of people’s all too human evil ways. It prays for truth in the inward being, asking “teach me wisdom in my secret heart.” Clean me so that I may instead hear joy and gladness, “create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me.”
Likewise, Timothy, a sinner, is grateful to have given up his selfish, ignorant ways to have somehow received the Lord’s mercy. This is a testament of his life turned around, a metanoia (which means to turn and face the light), and a hymn of gratitude and rejoicing.
Then in the Gospel according to Luke we hear the parable of the lost sheep, and the shepherd who leaves his entire flock in order to find the one who is lost. He is joyful over the one who is lost at last being found. And returned home.
Lastly, in writing from Emanuel Swedenborg, we see that animals are never lost. They have a homing instinct, and radiate joy as they come near to their homestead, even if they haven’t actually arrived there yet. They have a instinct for building their nests, and creating a home for themselves.
May we learn form these stories and recognize a sense of home when we arrive there settle in together with peace being at home where we belong. Amen.