I was in a motorway service station, last year travelling between places on my sabbatical. In a shop I found this sign and thought, that’ll be useful for a sermon one day and I think this might be it. It says “this house runs on love”. Hold that thought, I’ll come back to it in moment.
The other day, I was taking the funeral of a woman who died in her 90s. She had a life ‘well lived’. As I have heard so many times, the family were deeply thankful for her homemaking, for the love, the care, the fun, the being there. As I read through the Bible reading chosen, John 14, used at so many funerals, it struck me this familiar passage is about homemaking, but I have never quite seen it in those terms before.
In this passage, Jesus tells his disciples not to worry or be afraid. He is going to prepare a place for them, because in his father’s house the are many rooms – some translations give an upgrade to mansions. And yes, there is a place, but homemaking is something so much deeper and also ordinary – something we can do as so many do.
Homemakers ensure that we have a place. They ensure that home is safe and we are secure in its embrace. It is so easily taken for granted and what child doesn’t – that is its blessing, we don’t notice it until later we reflect. It’s a simple phrase, one easily dismissed and often undervalued, but in it is our security, our stability and our well-being.
With John’s gospel using this image of homemaking about Jesus making a home for us with God, our homemaking is made sacred. In it and through it we flourish and flower. We grow and become who we are. With Christ, we become beloved children of God, heirs of grace, and inheritors of God’s Kingdom; citizens of the heavenly city to come. A home is made for us, where we can flower into what God has in store for us.
Our second reading (1 Corinthians 15) used this image of flowering, becoming. Paul uses the image of a seed, sown and allowed to grow. What it becomes is beyond our imagining when we look at the seed – who’d imagine the flower, the plant, even the tree if they hadn’t seen this before. And this is the homemaking, how a seed grows, how our life grows into something so much more than we could think or expect.
Homemaking starts with the raw ingredient of a life and adds a special catalyst that changes everything. It is quite simply love; the love of God in Jesus Christ, the love which spills out to fill the world and all creation, and which we share with one another. It is unconditional, the kind of love that the best homes are made with.
Today we are remembering those whose love has helped us grow, flourish, even flower into who we are. And we do this in the hope and faith of God’s homemaking for them and for us. As we remember, give thanks for all that is good, maybe hold some things which were not so, the home prepared for us is built on the unconditional love of God in Jesus Christ, who died and rose for us. God’s homemaking runs on love. May that be comfort and hope for us today and always.
Sermon for a service of remembrance and thanksgiving, holding the memory of those who have died, Peterborough Parish Church, Sunday 15th November 2020