"Lord, You have been our dwelling place throughout all generations." - Psalm 90
I will never forget the last Sunday I worshipped as a member at the church I attended during the three years of my seminary education. The historic Ebenezer Baptist Church of Atlanta, Georgia, had become my home away from home, my refuge from the grind of academic rigor, and my place of safety amidst the hazards of theological deconstruction and reconstruction. The pastor had welcomed me, the congregation had embraced me and the Holy Spirit had edified me at Ebenezer. Upon graduation from Emory University's School of Theology I was called to a pastorate, and that meant leaving Ebenezer.
On the last Sunday I worshipped at Ebenezer, a senior deacon of the church shook my hand and said to me, "Son, you'll always have a home here at Ebenezer. If you don't like where you're going, you can always just come right back." Those kind sentiments have stayed with me throughout the 34 years I've been away serving my own congregations. And even though the Ebenezer Baptist Church family today has a new church building, a new pastor and many members I do not know, I still feel that I have a home in the gracious spirit of that congregation.
When I think about it, a home—a dwelling place—may not necessarily be the place of our address. A dwelling place is an ever-present spirit of hospitality and affirmation that goes with us wherever we go. A dwelling place is much more than an address. It is God's relentless invitation to every sojourner to "come home" and find rest and restoration for our weary souls. Our locations change from time to time. But isn't it good to know that in the spirit of God's welcoming embrace, we can always come home?
Lord, in the midst of so much transition and relocation, we thank you for being our constant dwelling place—even from generation to generation. Because of you, we are never without a home. Amen.
Kenneth L. Samuel is Pastor of Victory for the World Church, Stone Mountain, Georgia.