Pastors have one of the most varied job descriptions of any other vocation. One day you’re at the hospital consoling a grieving person and then racing off to do marriage counseling. The next day you’re studying ancient Greek, creating a Bible curriculum, or preparing a sermon. One day you’re hosting a BBQ and the next you’re casting a vision or overseeing a capital campaign.
One of the occasional privileges I have is to show up at a family’s new home just as the moving truck is driving away (if I time it right!). I enter the home with anointing oil and candles and prayers, and lead the family with their big, excited smiles through a liturgy of blessing for their new home. We consecrate the space, inviting the Living God to take up residence and transform that “house” into a grace-filled and love-saturated “home.”
Here’s blessing I just wrote for a couple families who have recently moved. Enjoy!
Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way.
When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly.
All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.”
But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.”
Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” (Luke 9:1-9)
Marvel of marvels, the Living God wants—no insists—on taking up residence in our homes! “I must stay at your house,” he tells Zacchaeus. He is especially eager to move into homes of those who are desperate to see Him at work in their lives—you know, the kinds of people who will climb up a tree or drag the family to church 30 minutes late—if there’s a chance to see Jesus passing through. But it gets better.
He loves to be the guest of broken down, tired, repeatedly dropping the ball failures and misfits like me. “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner,” the grace-starved religious critics complain. Ha! It’s worse than they realize: sinners are pretty much the only people Jesus wants to be around. “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick,” Jesus says. “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners” (Luke 5:31). That makes me feel a whole lot better about his company. Unlike some guests, Jesus doesn’t mind the messes on the floor. I don’t have to go on a last minute cleaning spree before I can let Him in the door. “Sit down, child, and rest. Let me clean up that up for you,” Jesus says.
Admittedly, he offends my ego at times, insisting on playing the host in my own home: setting the table, lighting the candles, preparing a feast of that “food you know nothing of” (John 4:32), cleaning up my messes, and footing the entire bill. “Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends” (Rev. 3:20).
If that weren’t enough, he brings the housewarming gift-that-keeps-on-giving: salvation. “Today Salvation has come to this house.” Salvation, for that’s his name (“Jesus” or Yeshua in Hebrew means “God Saves”), comes in with a 3-person remodeling team (Trinity Inc.), and starts renovating heart and hearth from the inside out. The project is often slow, but the changes can be remarkable. Just ask Zacchaeus: “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.”
Best of all, the gift of His saving and abiding presence “will never leave or forsake you” (Deut 31:6). He assures me, “Dwell in me, and I will dwell in you” (John 15:4) and “Be sure of this: I will be with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matt 28:20).
Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 5 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.” (Deuteronomy 6:4-9)
“Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.’” (Joshua 24:15)