Words and Listening
In this part of the house, we would like to challenge you to think about what home means in the context of Christian faith. You could also combine this with the Scripture passages and questions we have put together in the blue section for Bible study. In this space, you can read and reflect on some ideas about home and heaven from Anne Richards, the convenor of the Mission Theology Advisory Group.
Our home is in heaven
I’m always interested in the stories the neurologist Oliver Sacks tells about his patients, whose inner experiences he documents with both wonder and humility. For example, he tells the story of one of his dying patients, a teenager who was experiencing strange, but comforting visions as she approached her death. When Dr Sacks asked her what was happening, she said ‘I am going home’. Yet another patient felt compelled to paint his birthplace in rural Italy over and over again, including in a spiritualised heavenly form, but when Dr Sacks took him back to his village, he was distressed and confused by the fact it had changed and wasn’t truly his home any more. What did ‘home’ mean for those two people? And was home another word for heaven?
St Augustine tells us that our hearts are restless until we find our way back to God and the Teacher in Ecclesiastes 12.5 talks about dying as going to our ‘long home’, our eternal home. So there is a sense that from the moment we are born we are trying to find our way back home to the place we belong, with God. I have been at the bedside of people near death who have told me that they can see, or have been visited by, family members who are waiting for them to let go of their earthly lives and go to join them. Even talking to a friend, who is an atheist, she said that when she died her reaction would be a joyful, ‘I’ve done it! I’m home!’