Home is where the heart is; it’s where your story begins; it’s a shelter from the storms of life; and, in the words of Dorothy Gale, ‘there’s no place like home.’
While these statements might all be rather clichéd, they do teach us something important – that home is much more than bricks and mortar. That’s not to say that a roof and four walls don’t matter, they unequivocally do. There’s just a little more to it than that.
Last month, Prime Minister Theresa May announced that additional funding would be made available to help build new homes in England. Under the plan, housing associations, councils and other organisations will be able to bid for money to spend on new projects, starting from 2022.
In her speech to announce the funding, the Prime Minister raised the issue that, for many people, there is still a great deal of stigma that surrounds the notion of social housing. Beautiful new buildings it seems, will only go so far in helping us to address the issues within our communities.
Where did Jesus Live?
In the Bible, we don’t hear much about the places where Jesus’ lived; this in itself is rather telling. The sheer fact that he was born in a borrowed stable, wrapped in rags and placed in an animals’ feeding trough is evidence enough that there is much more to God’s notion of home.
Early in John’s Gospel, two of Jesus’s disciples raise the question directly with him when they ask “Rabbi, where are you staying?”Jesus chooses not to tell them, but to show them by merely saying, “Come, and you will see.” (John 1:38-39)
His answer is directed not just at the disciples, but and at you and me. Jesus doesn’t reveal anything about the size, shape or location of the home. In inviting the disciples to “come and see” where he was staying – Jesus was doing much more than taking them on a tour of his house, he was inviting them to enter into a whole new community where relationships are of central importance.
Homes are important. We all need somewhere where safe and warm where we can anchor our lives, but the housing charity Shelter estimate that 1.5 million households were on waiting lists last year for social housing.
If you take a look at our Cinnamon Recognised Projects, you’ll see that we do have initiatives that help people to find safe, secure and sustainable housing – but they do much more than that. These initiatives help churches to respond to the wider needs of individuals who don’t have a place to call home, and they do that through building relationships.
In fact, at the heart of all our Cinnamon Recognised Projects – whether their focus is on housing or not – is the underlying drive to bring people together into community with one another. When we are in regular contact with people and feel known, loved and appreciated, then the way we view ourselves and the world around us begins to shift. Jesus understood this, which is why he devoted so much of his time to fellowship and encouraging his followers to support one another.
And so, while we may not be able to influence government housing budgets, we can all play our role in making the communities we live in places that people are proud to call home.
“Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you” – Romans 15:7