Houses matter… it matters that Jesus says there is room in God’s house for us … and that Jesus is making preparations for the day we move in … putting in fresh sheets and towels … arranging a bouquet of spring flowers.
Houses matter. Rooms matter.
Reflect for a moment on the houses and homes in which you have lived ... as a child, as an adult ... and the rooms: kitchen and bedroom, basement and attic and living room.
Reflect on the way the houses or homes or rooms in which you lived or live shapes your lives. What was out the window: back yard or back alley? Trees or the neighbor’s window? Wooded environs or neatly clipped suburban lawns, farmland or fen, inland or coastal, highland or lowland ... brick or gravel or pavement or dirt? Think of your neighbors ... were they near or far, many or few?
Where did you play? What were your chores? Houses matter. This house matters.
As a church, we support ministries to the unhoused, to those whose days are filled hunting for food, seeking shelter from the weather, lugging their few possessions everywhere they go ... people for whom privacy is a luxury they cannot afford. Houses matter.
This house of God matters … A gathering place capable of emitting the spirit and love that God is. It matters that each year this house welcomes and hosts dozens of Jewish high school students from around the world. They come to this house of God to learn, to ask questions.
They are surprised to learn that you—most of you—are not creationists, but have respect for science. That is not what they had been told about Christians.
They are astounded about our commitment to persons who are gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender.
They are floored to learn that our communion table is open to all, and each year several of them taste and swallow the bread we call the bread of heaven, and the cup we call the cup of salvation.
Houses matter. This house matters. It matters that upon learning of the tsunami that wrought catastrophic horrors to Japan, the Japan Society of America reached out to us to host a service of mourning and solidarity. It matters that we have a pulpit from which to hang white origami cranes, and sacred space for sacred sorrows.
It matters that the walls of this Chapel and the walls of the sanctuary have absorbed centuries of prayers.
Houses matter. This house matters.
It matters that the Massachusetts Resiliency Center—an organization whose mission is to help the survivors of the Boston Marathon bombings—reached out to us to host an interfaith Service of Resiliency on the second anniversary of the bombings. Houses matters.
It matters that we have a gathering place in which to teach our children about God’s wide and indiscriminate love.
It matters that among the tall, gleaming edifices to industry and commerce, to entertainment, the arts and government that surround us, there is a house of God on the corner of Dartmouth and Boylston Streets, whose sole purpose is to bridge the chasm between heaven and earth.
It matters that this house is capable of absorbing the grief of an overturned cruise ship in the Yangtze River … of a murderous earthquake and vicious avalanche in Nepal.
We gather here, in this building to mourn the dead, comfort the suffering and grieve the loss of innocence. Here is a house in which we are trained and formed for love. A house giving witness to the ways of peace amidst the world’s propensity for violence.
Houses matter. It matters that this house of God is kept open seven-days-a week free to the public ... that the public can come here to pray and meditate, weep and rejoice. That here we give witness to the power of mercy, study the difficult practice of forgiveness and learn the art of reconciliation.
It is here that we approach the baptismal font and touch holy water to children’s brows, naming them and claiming them for God, for love.
This house of God matters. It is no easy feat to keep it open, clean, safe and beautiful. It is a commitment, a sacred obligation, a ministry of time and resources, of hospitality and welcome.
Houses matter. This House of God matters.
God’s spirit is redolent here. The exuberance of God’s love is here. Goodness is here. And comfort. And peace.
Thank you for caring and tending to this house. Yours is a ministry of Christian hospitality.
Preached during First Worship.