Beyond Wood and Stone

Rev. Elisabeth's Cedar Park Blog site

Month: February 2015

Longing for Home: Broken Home

dsc04223[1]This year the UCC has an online study community on Facebook, called “Longing for Home”. Each Friday a contributor is asked to write a reflection piece on what the phrase “Longing for Home” means for them. This is the piece I wrote. It’s up on the Facebook page (,  but you can read it here,  good folk of Cedar Park (and others who follow this blog).

Broken Home

“Longing for Home.”   It’s a wonderful title for our Lenten Series, but…..what if you don’t…What if “Home” is not something you long for, but rather, dread? What if you are the kid who stays after school to help the janitor clean the classrooms, or count the paperclips….anything to delay returning to a broken home? What if you are the parent, or the spouse who stays late at work, with oh-so-important deadlines to meet….. just not the appointment with chaos, or catastrophe, or unutterable misery, at home?

Home can be the antithesis of longing or belonging.  Home can be hell.  Home can be broken.

How, then, can “home” be the very thing we long for, if body and soul are bruised by the brokenness of our experience of home? I don’t know, how, but I know it’s true. St. Augustine would say that it’s part of the essence of our humanness to have hearts/souls which are restless until they find their home in God.  Longing for “home” is hardwired into our humanity.

I remember discovering a poem (now I sound like our Moderator!) by James Merrill, “Broken Home,” at a time in my life when home was most definitely broken, fractured not only by a sibling’s death, but also the shattered relationships that her death precipitated. Merrill writes of catching a glimpse through a window of an unbroken family, parents and child “gleaming like fruit with evening’s mild gold leaf”   while his own sunless existence is pale and waxy in comparison. (…/s…/files/2010/08/Broken-Home1.pdf)

I remember that view all too well, longing for the ‘evening gold’ that I imagined tinted the existence of every other home but mine.  A more strident poetry tells the same tale of longing for home, community and connectedness, forged in the furnace of a broken home in Punk Rock band Papa Roach’s “Broken Home”

Push it back inside
It feels bad to be alone
Crying by yourself, living in a broken home.
How could I tell it so y’all could feel it?   ( ).

This longing for home, both poignant and strident, runs through the Joseph narrative in Genesis, chapters 37,39-50. Parental favoritism and spoiled childhood, sibling betrayals, slavery, attempted seduction, imprisonment, famine, deceit, and the subsequent rise to power of Joseph as Pharaoh’s vizier were never enough to erase Joseph’s longing for home, nor his father’s longing for reconciliation and the mending of his broken family. As in most stories of brokenness and longing for home, the homecoming is scarred somehow by the brokenness. Jacob did not live to see his family return home from Egypt. Neither did Joseph ever see the  old home he longed for.  But what about the mending and the homecoming of the heart?  Well, thanks be to God, that happened. It still does.

Caring Community

This Lent we give birth to a new project at Cedar Park: Caring Community.  

Like every newborn, it will take us some time to discover its character, its features, but we do know something about its genetics! Caring Community is a way  helping every single person in our Cedar Park Community discover  and strengthen their God-given capacity to care for self and for others.

The premise for this project is quite simple:

We care because we are creatures made in the image of a loving, caring, healing, mending God, (Gen 1:26). God calls us to be in life-giving relationship with God, one another and creation. It’s a call  God gives to to all, not just to some.

The implications of this are alarmingly vast! Peggy Way, who is a “Pastoral Theologian” (meaning she has great wisdom to offer on this topic), speaks of a paradigm shift in the way Christian Communities understand Christ’s call for us to Love God, Neighbour and Self.  For a good two generations now, “Pastoral Care” in a congregation was seen as the task/role/responsibility of the Pastor (Minister) and a chosen few, professionals, or well-trained designated volunteers, offering specialized care to individuals.  While this model has much to offer, this new paradigm reconnects with some ancient, faithful wisdom:

  • “Care is something we do, because we are human.” We don’t need professional qualifications to perceive and respond to human needs.
  • Humans are made to thrive in community; care is most effective when it is done by, with, in, and for community. A  congregation/community is itself “a hospitable community of care” (Way).
  • Care in community is a hallmark of the Way of Jesus Christ; called into fellowship as well as discipleship, the followers of the Way of Jesus developed communities of care, where mutual care nourished the community so that they could then seek to be a place of mission, care and justice in God’s world.

During Lent, we’ll explore some of this ancient faithful wisdom, and we will take time to get to know this newborn in our midst, as we imagine together a future as a Caring Community.

More to come!

Rev. Elisabeth


To read  Peggy Way’s article, click this link.

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