“It takes hands to build a house but only hearts to build a home.”
Think back on a time when you looked around the room and felt like the most blessed person on the planet. Where were you? Who was with you? What were you doing?
I feel that way quite often. As I write this column I am working from a laptop here in my kitchen. A yellow lab sleeps at my feet and snores in a soothing, rhythmic fashion. I am thankful for this loving creature. He offers a degree of companionship and acceptance and predictability. He is a valued member of our family and part of what makes our house a home, filling the occasional quiet with life.
Ventura, Calif. is another place I consider home. It’s where I grew up, married, had children and started a career. Today there are family members who still reside there and high school classmates who keep my sense of home alive through their Facebook posts.
I have another home and that is my church. It’s my home because I regularly spend time there with other church family members. Our collective financial gifts fund programs, keep the buildings in good repair and pay our staff. We worship beside each other. We study together and serve in various capacities. We frequently eat together and socialize. We examine our lives as Christians and aim to productively live and work in Oak Harbor. We celebrate births; mourn deaths. We offer each other practical support through life events, including those we welcome and those we must bear up to face. We challenge each other to be the loving presence God calls us to be. We struggle at times but also learn to forgive each other.
My church home is a place where others gather as well. It was while sitting at a conference table, seeing people who live in Oak Harbor and serve in various capacities with assorted organizations, that recently filled my heart with joy and amazement — the feelings one has when utterly blessed.
I felt this way because the gathering included a diverse crowd from all walks of life in Oak Harbor. We did not talk politics or theology. We talked about people and what we are noticing about some of their needs here in Oak Harbor. We talked about struggles and challenges. We talked funding. We talked about lives changed; hopes to be realized.
These are the things that go on in my church and churches across Oak Harbor. These are places where people are gathering and working for the benefit of those who seek and deserve to experience firsthand the love of God.
It’s the place where I witness God moving and empowering ordinary people like myself to do His work. It’s the place where my heart fills to the brim with complete amazement and hope.
In the coming weeks I’ll introduce some of these people and the programs they are designing to benefit the people of Oak Harbor, our community, our home.