Home as a taste of heaven – I love this from Catherine Butcher. Heaven is a topic she loves to think about, speak about, and write about, and her blog on home radiates with a glimpse of its glory. Take a few moments to ponder and wonder, and join us in thinking about home and heaven and feasting together at the table.
Not long after we were married, friends who stayed overnight wrote a kind note in our guest book. They described our home as ‘an embassy of heaven’. I’ve carried those words for more than a quarter of a century now. They are as challenging today as ever. What makes a home ‘an embassy of heaven’?
A British embassy overseas gives visitors a tiny taste of Britain – everything is quintessentially British. Sometimes that means cocktails on a perfect lawn or tea and cucumber sandwiches. But in many parts of the world the embassy is a refuge; a place of peace and sanctuary for Britons stranded in foreign lands.
And that’s what I want our home to be. A sanctuary and safe haven. More than just a place to shelter. A place to be totally relaxed. Always welcoming. Always nourishing.
Our kitchen table is the heart of our home. As soon as we could afford it we extended the compact kitchen so we could eat meals there. Later, we made further changes so there’s room to extend the table fully and entertain guests. That table is the setting for my happiest memories. As a family we’ve laughed ‘til we’ve cried. We’ve prayed in good times and bad. We’ve debated and discussed everything from future dreams to family finances.
But the table could be anywhere. What makes it home is the people seated round it. Home has been a caravan in a field; a picnic table in a forest. I could adapt that Marvin Gaye lyric (later recorded by Paul Young) – ‘Wherever I lay a table, that’s my home’.
Reading The Sacred Romance by Brent Curtis and John Eldredge helped me to understand why I feel so happy sharing a meal with the people I love most around a table. They pointed to Ecclesiastes 3:11, and Eldredge’s subsequent volumes continue to explore the conclusion of that first book: ‘Our longing for heaven whispers to us …’
When Jesus said, ‘I go to prepare a place for you’ he was talking about our heavenly home, our safe haven, where we will be fully known and fully accepted just as we are. In heaven, with Jesus, we will never feel like the outsider or the unnecessary extra. Each of us will know he has included us on purpose, not by accident. When we take our place in heaven it won’t be like one of those parties where you wander into the crowded room and wonder who to talk to or where to sit. Jesus is waiting to welcome the citizens of his heavenly kingdom, not formally, but as family. There won’t be an embarrassed shuffling of seats to squeeze you in. He has already prepared a place just for you.
Our longing for that heavenly welcome whispers to us. Jesus very deliberately chose a meal around a table as the setting to remember him. One day we will sit together at a heavenly wedding supper for Christ and his bride.
Home is where we have a foretaste of that welcome – and I want every family member and guest to feel that ‘welcome home’ as they walk through the door.
Catherine Butcher is HOPE’s Communications Director, author of several books and co-author with Mark Greene of The Servant King and the King She Serves, published by HOPE, Bible Society and LICC as a tribute to the Queen on her 90th birthday. Her book What you always wanted to know about heaven – but were afraid to ask (CWR, 2007) is now out of print but is still available from Catherine. Find her on Facebook or email [email protected] to buy a copy.