United Church of Christ

God Gives the Desolate a Home

“God gives the desolate a home to live in.”

So wrote the Psalmist.

I wonder what happens in a life that induces an insight like that? What happened in a life that reveals the Sacred in such a way?

God gives the desolate a home to live in.

Earlier this week, I was in Madbury, New Hampshire. I worshiped at the 14th anniversary of the Maranatha Indonesian United Church of Christ. There is ongoing persecution of Christians in Indonesia, and this immigrant community is here because of that.

Just a few months ago, many of their members were arrested when they went to the Immigration offices for their regular check in with the government. With no warning and without provocation, they were placed in prison awaiting deportation.

Pastor Sandra Pontoh would have that. She began organizing on their behalf, calling her elected leaders and pleading the case for these gentle souls to be released from detention. Sending them back home would be a disaster for them as they would be persecuted both for their faith and for having abandoned their homeland.

Her persistence paid off. And yesterday, on their 14th anniversary, we celebrated together in worship not just an anniversary, but a return home of many who thought they were going to be deported.

Here is a more complete version of what the Psalmist wrote:

“Sing to God, Sing praises to Her name; lift up a song to the one who rides upon the clouds. Be exultant before God. Guardian of orphans and protector of widows is God. God gives the desolate a home to live in; and leads the prisoners to prosperity.”

And there it was before my very eyes.

We did exactly what the Psalmist asked of us. We sang our praises to God’s Holy Name in the presence of the desolate for whom God made a home, the prisoners to whom God brought both freedom and prosperity.

There was worship, and song, and dance, and cake!

There was abundant joy and unfettered delight.

There was laughter. And pictures! I know I posed for at least a thousand pictures.

It is in moments like these that I understand how the stories of our faith and our scriptures get written.

We experience the unmistakable presence of the Sacred, the Holy, the Divine entering our lives and changing our world. She comes to us in quiet moments, whispering to us words of comfort and hope. She speaks in sighs to deep for words when grief overwhelms.

And yes, from the jail cells of the detained who await deportation the hand of our Creator finds a way when there was no way.

“God gives the desolate a home to live in.”

And so we sing to God, praising God’s Holy Name.

Let there be songs abundant, laughter and joy without limit. Let there be hope enough to brighten the despondent and the desolate. And let there be light enough to warm our hearts and brighten our pathways on this, our journey Into the Mystic.