Longing for Home
Pastor Ian asks if we have lost our longing for our eternal home?
I received another gentle reminder this past week. Dengue has been discovered in our complex and consequently a kind representative from the National Environment Agency came by our flat to inform me of the dangers of standing water. It was an informative conversation, well-seasoned with a consistent refrain: “I’m not sure how things are in your country, but here in Singapore, we…”
For those of us who enjoy the privilege of being in Singapore on a work pass, there are often subtle—sometimes, daily—reminders that Singapore is not our home and that one day… we will need to leave.
And yet, life here is so pleasant, I very seldom find myself longing for home. I actually thought Mothers’ Day and the reminder that I have brought a sweet mum to live in separation from her children and grandchildren might stir up in my heart some nostalgic longing for home. Nope.
Regardless, beginning in Scripture and throughout Christian history, followers of Jesus have had an extensive tradition of longing for home. In 2 Corinthians 5:2—a text I actually used two weeks ago during my sister’s funeral—Paul addressed a generation of believers whose daily lives were intensely difficult and he wrote, “For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling.” We can also see this longing in the writings of the early Church leaders.
Born to pagan parents in the year AD 200, Thascius Caecilius Cyprianus, better known to us a Cyprian, became a believer and later, Bishop of Carthage. During intense Roman persecution he wrote in a pastoral letter to the believers of North Africa:
“We have solemnly renounced the world and therefore, while we continue in it, should behave like strangers and pilgrims. We should welcome that happy day of our death, which is to fix us, in our proper habitation. Who of us, if he had long been a sojourner in a foreign land would not desire to return to his native country? Who of us, when he had begun to sail there would not wish for a prosperous wind to carry him to his desired home with speed, that he might sooner embrace his friends and relatives? We must account paradise our country.”
On 14 September, AD 258, Bishop Cyprian was sent home by the sword of a Roman executioner.
Many years later, on 22 January, 1931 Sam Cooke was born. He was the son of a African American Mississippi pastor and lived during the challenging days of racial segregation. In the winter of 1950, while reflecting on 1 Corinthians 15:52, he wrote
I was born by the river in a little tent
Oh and just like the river I've been running ev'r since
It's been a long time, a long time coming
But I know a change gonna come, oh yes it will!
Sam Cooke’s song Change is Gonna Come was picked up by a secular record label and rose to number one in the American and British music charts. But change truly came for Sam Cooke in 1964. He was shot and killed in a California hotel.
My life is nothing like Sam Cooke’s or Cyprian’s or the Apostle Paul. My life is comfortable; so comfortable, that my roots have begun to sink deep into earthly soil. And I have begun to wonder. Am I a part of the first generation of a new kind of ‘Christian’ that has lost their longing for Home? And how does that impact the way I live and love?
Thomas and Julie Hamilton are two of our newest members at Grace. They, like many others God has recently led to join Grace, have been brought by the Lord, not only to find a community of care, growth and rest, but they are also brought to strengthen us through their God-given gifts and faith journey. Let me invite you to take a moment to hear of the extraordinary gift that God has given the Hamiltons, and how He has used one special life to remind them of God’s unusual affection for them, and to turn their hearts toward Home!
I pray that this week, each of us will spend a few moments preparing for Sunday and for Eternity, meditating on and longing for, our Eternal home!
Ministry This Week
1. During these days of Covid-19 circuit breaking measures, many of us are feeling the loss of our post-worship fellowship time. Recognising that it may be yet weeks, or even months before we can safely re-launch our fellowship time, we would like to encourage you to send ‘selfies’ or ‘wefies’ of your family or yourself to retired7117@gmail. We hope to collate these and loop them at the end of every digital service to remind us of the gathering we will enjoy when we can gather together again!
2. Our CG Leaders and Facilitators (as well as all those interested in how to be a better CG participant) will be meeting by Zoom this Saturday, 16 May at 930am.
3. Mums Connect is currently meeting on Zoom each Friday morning at 930 am Most are mothers with young children (and a couple of expectant mums!) but 'young' is relative, and all mothers and grandmothers are welcome!
If you would like a Zoom invitation to this gathering, please email Siew Ting at firstname.lastname@example.org.
4. Guest Workers Outreach
"Love the sojourner, therefore, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt."
If you have been following the news, you would realise that our guest workers (or foreign workers) have been facing a number of challenges. In response, GBC has partnered with the Alliance of Guest Workers Outreach (AGWO) to reach out to our guest workers and meet their needs, seeking to build relational bridges. We have made a love-gift for their meals and have also adopted a dormitory (about 50 people) in the Tannery Road area. We plan to give fruits and care packages for this dormitory.
In addition, please pray our guest workers that their practical needs will be met. Pray also that they would be drawn to Jesus Christ, whom only through and in, will their spiritual needs be met. Pray also for the team who will be reaching out to them.
For more information about how you can help, please email Pastor Oliver at email@example.com.