By Rt. Rev. Bishop Linda Nicholls
As I have travelled around the diocese in my first months in Huron I am frequently asked “Where is your home?” The easy response is “in London” where I bought a house and moved in April. But I also understand that the person asking wants to know where am I from, where are my roots, my family, my identity.
I do not have a single answer for their question. As a child I moved frequently as my father was transferred around western Canada and then to Toronto. Home was where my immediate family lived! Then I lived in India for five years and home was there. After ordination I moved a number of times in ministry. Home was sometimes in a rectory and at others in a house I bought. As I aged a new question emerged as I contemplated future retirement and wondered where would I live as I would have to leave the last community I served as a priest. Where would home be then?
During the summer I attended the National Worship Conference and was struck by a realization that I had always known but saw afresh, that home is not the house or the community in which I live or have come from. My home is God’s table in the midst of the family of God. Wherever I have lived I have found my roots in a community of God’s people who love and care for one another and the world – and in their midst, in worship and in prayer together and at God’s table I am ‘home’.
From the glorious majesty of Canterbury Cathedral to a small ice fishing hut chapel on Lake Simcoe; from a summer island church to the one room apartment of a young missionary couple in Kashmir I have found gatherings of God’s people in whose midst I am home. And now – from the shores of Lake Ontario and the Haliburton Highlands to the shores of Lakes Erie, St. Clair and Huron I have discovered that same home among God’s people in this diocese.
We live in a world in which our heads spin with the pace of technological change; the effects of climate change; the chilling power of terrorism; the increasing political polarizations around us; and decline of things we have loved including our church. We look for something that will provide stability and safety – somewhere to hold on to – like the centre poles of a whirling merry-go-round.
That stable, safe centre is found in God, for it is there that we know we are forgiven and loved. It is there we will find the guidance in the midst of change. It is there we gather to be encouraged and challenged to discern the path through change that is consistent with God’s kingdom call to love, mercy and justice. It is there we are at home.
Thank you for being home in a new way for me as God’s people in Huron. I look forward to how God will lead us to respond to all the challenges of change that are around us, confident that in worship, prayer and discernment we will share in building the kingdom of God.