Homesick for a place we’ve never been

 

There is a beautiful line in the movie Garden State where Zach Braff and Natalie Portman talk about coming home. Zach’s character  has returned home to find things are different and will never be the same. He goes on to say you become “homesick for a place that doesn’t even exist.”  I love that line. I wonder if the church is a gathering of people who are  homesick as well. But not for a place that doesn’t exist, but for one we’ve never been to.

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Ecuadorian Hospitality

I like to coin my own phrases. My wife tells me this is very “Michael-Scott” of me (you know, the boss from the TV show The Office), but I do it anyway. One of my coined phrases is “There’s always room at my table.” I started saying that a few years ago. I guess it’s because there is something incredibly significant about sharing a meal with someone…and when people sit at my table, I just feel good about myself. Sometimes we serve food at church and I love seeing how many people we can fit around one table. When you  think about it, there is something special happening when we share food and drink and invite others to join us. We open up our lives and give of nourishment, but we also give of ourselves. The whole ordeal is quite intimate. It’s a beautiful picture of the Christian life–a life of reckless hospitality. A life focused on giving and receiving.

Last summer I spent a few weeks in Ecuador.  I quickly learned how giving and welcoming the Ecuadorian people are, and also how quickly you become family. During our stay, we took a couple of days to visit a small town on the beach. It was quaint, with unpaved roads, small buildings, and houses running throughout. Children played barefoot in the street. It only took a few minutes to walk through the entire town and the whole time you could hear the ocean crash upon the shore.

Carlos and Jeannette

We stayed the weekend with a couple named Carlos and Jeanette. Carlos was an Ecuadorian and his wife, Jeanette, was from Georgia. They had been married for many years and most of their lives were spent in the states. Now, Carlos and Jeanette were both retired and they decided to move to Ecuador for their golden years. They had an incredible house that sat right on the beach on the edge of town. It was a two-story house, with views of the ocean no matter where you stood. Carlos built the house a few years earlier and had made trips back and forth from Georgia to Ecuador to supervise the construction and progress. I soon learned Carlos had a lot to teach us.

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The Bread Man

I met the bread man a few months back. Never heard of him? I hadn’t either until he pulled up outside of our church in his van full of carbs. His name is John and he lives in our city. I liked him immediately. He wears black and white tweed pants and blue blocker sun glasses. He drives a rusty brown astro van with no benches and a cracked windshield. The reason there are no benches in his van is so he can fill it with bread. Go figure. Every once in a while, John gets a call from Vons. I’m not sure why they call him or how he got this gig, but every month or so Vons calls John. They tell him they have a pickup for him. John then drives his rusty brown astro van to Vons and fills it with bread. Lot’s of bread.