Saturday, April 25, 2015

Dream Home

Wedding of Philip & Wendy

Readings: Genesis 1:26-31; 1 John 3:18-24; John 15:9-12
Picture: cc  Mark Moz

Philip and Wendy, my dear friends. If it was completely up to you, where would you wish to live? Where would you choose to call home? Would you live in Singapore? Or in another country? In a house? Or in an apartment? And what would your dream home look like? How many rooms would it have? How many floors? Would it have a garden? A verandah? A driveway? And what would you be willing to do in order to find and to keep living in this place? How hard would you work? What sacrifices would you make? How much money would you spend?

Wendy and Philip, I’m not sure if you are aware of this. But, by your choice of scripture readings today, you are actually sharing with us your answers to these questions. You are telling us where you wish to live. What you want your home to look like. And what you are prepared to do to keep living in this place.

In the first reading, from the book of Genesis, after creating the first man and woman, God gives them the whole world for them to live in. Now this may not seem surprising to us. Of course, you have to choose to live in the world. Where else can you live? But God doesn’t just tell the first man and woman to live in the world. God also teaches them how to make the world their home. Be fruitful, God says, multiply, fill the earth and conquer it. Be masters of the fish of the sea, the birds of heaven and all living animals on the earth…

But what does this mean? What does it mean to be fruitful? To be masters of the earth? Is it just a matter of bearing more and more children? Or simply to be able to make everything else in the world do whatever we want? Is that all it takes to be at home on this earth? As you know, my dear friends, later on in the story, the first man and woman do eventually have children. But they do not feel at home in the world. In fact, out of jealousy, their first child, Cain, kills the second one, Abel. And then, as punishment, Cain is made wander homeless over the face of the earth.

In the same way, we can live in the world, but still not feel at home in it. We may even live in a big house. Drive an expensive car. Wear nice clothes. Have plenty of children. But still feel as though something important was missing. Still feel like homeless people. So what must we do to be at home here on this earth? Where and how exactly must we live? Jesus gives us the answer to these questions in the gospel. As the Father has loved me, he says, so I have loved you. Remain in my love.

Remain in my love. My dear friends, this is the house that Jesus has prepared for us. The place he wants us to call home. The love that he has for us. The love that he showed us when he chose to come among us as an innocent and helpless baby. When he died for us on the Cross. And was raised to life on the Third Day. This is the love that Jesus means. The place we can truly call home. Where we can find lasting joy. Even on this earth. Even when we may face difficulties. Even in the midst of trouble of any kind. As Jesus says, I have told you this so that my own joy may be in you and your joy be complete. The love of Christ, the Son of God, who gave his life to set us free. This is the place that you, Philip and Wendy, are choosing to call home.

But how do we find this place? And what must we do to keep living there? The second reading tells us that our love is not to be just words or mere talk, but something real and active. It is, of course, important to tell people that we love them. And we hope that you, Wendy and Philip, will never stop telling each other that. But, as we all know, love is shown more in deeds than in words. It’s quite pointless, for example, for me to keep telling my spouse and children that I love them, if I never feel the need to spend quality time with them. Similarly, we show our love for God not just by talking, but by also by acting. By doing what God wants. By making time and space, in our daily lives, for God and for others. To live the way Jesus lived. Lives of loving service.

This is what you, Wendy and Philip, are committing yourselves to do. This is the place that you are choosing to make your home. Not just a particular country or district. Not just a big house or a posh condominium. Not just a residence that can be bought and sold. More than anywhere else, the place that you are choosing to call home is the love of God, shown to us in Christ Jesus our Lord.

And, by our presence here today, the rest of us are committing ourselves to help you live in this special place. To support you by our friendship. Especially in times when it becomes difficult to remain in love. Times when the thrill of the honeymoon may have slipped away from memory. And the burdens of daily routine may seem too heavy to bear. Especially in times like these, we all need people to help remind us of the promises we have made. People who are themselves also trying live where we have chosen to live. To live in love. To live in Christ. To live in God.

This, my dear friends, is what we are celebrating today. Not just a union of two lives. But also a community’s commitment to keep living in the same place. To keep sharing a common home.

Philip and Wendy, my dear friends, what are we prepared to do to continue living in the joyful home of God’s love today?

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