Today is the Feast of the Epiphany. We end the Christmas season and enter into the season after the Epiphany. During this season, we will hear again how God made God’s self known to us through the following of a star, the Baptism of Jesus, the Transfiguration, the breaking of the bread. 

The Calendar also has turned over again. It is a New Year! Maybe a time to begin again. Maybe a time to return to forgotten things. Maybe a time to come home. Have you ever longed for a place that no longer exists or that is changed beyond recognition? Or maybe go back to a time before the loss of a loved one? Or to a special time when your kids were young or when you were young?  I had one of those moments of realization while talking with a friend from my childhood. Talking with her about our favorite places and people brought back so many memories. Obviously, I cannot go back to the house I grew up in. And, even if I could, the familiar landscapes and points of interest are gone. And so are the people! I remember the combined excitement my friends had when we found out a shopping mall was to be built near us. It was going to be amazing! Cool places to shop, eat, hang out. We couldn’t wait. And, here it is, not quite 45 years later: that enchanting place is likely to be torn down. To be fair, it is not as lovely as it was when brand new. And, if we compared our mall with any other mall, it certainly would not have been all that special. 

The fate of Lakeside Mall is part of a much grander picture that points to a timeless truth: the things of this physical world are fleeting. It also points to the way our memory works. I heard it once called fuzzy nostalgia. Our brain conjures up a romanticized version of reality of a time when. But, that desire to return home is still there.Perhaps home is not best understood as a geographical location. Instead, home could very well be an attitude or state of mind or balance of spirit. I believe our hearts have a home as well-within the realm of the God’s Kingdom. No matter where we are, we can access this home through prayer.

Richard Foster writes in the introduction to his book on Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home:

“[God]…is inviting you-and me-to come home, to come home to where we belong, to come home to that for which we were created. His arms are stretched out wide to receive us. His heart is enlarged to take us in.”

This idea of having a permanent home, where the landmarks and familiar places remain etched in the realm of the Spirit, is very compelling to me. This home we can enter through worship and through prayer. This is the place for conversation with a Host who is always available for a short chat or a long, meandering, sharing over coffee dialogue. To me it is a dialogue. I may share all of the words that are shaped in my mind and heart. God offers back to me a sense of rightness, of belonging, of peace. God whispers encouragement and compassion when we pray. God nudges our hearts to change and be transformed through prayer. A heart at prayer is at home, in a place of absolute safety. No one can break in and take from us this abode. Even when times of prayer feel to us dry and unrewarding, there is always more going on with our spirit than we can detect.

When the Gospel of John speaks to us of abiding with God, we are being asked to make our home with God. As with anyone’s home, there are ways into the building. Some of us are bold enough to walk through the front door. Others of us are more timid or reluctant, preferring to come in through the side porch or the back entrance or through the garage. God’s house not only has many rooms, but also has many ways in! Spiritually, I think we abide in God’s house by following God’s call on us to love as we are loved. This love often needs recharging. Our resources within to love are deepened and restored through prayer. But, as with all things, prayer takes practice! As this New Year commences, I hope that all of us will take the time to practice this expression of our faith on a daily basis. May this year be one where we are open to the transforming power of the Holy Spirit in all that we do, but especially through prayer.