By Paul Lancaster, Hope For The Nations

Minha casa e sua casa

I first came across the phrase (My home is your home) when visiting Brazil a number of years ago and the people who said it really meant it during our short stay. I jokingly said “does that mean I have to pay the bills!”. My wife and I felt so at home in spite of language barriers. I began to reflect on this phrase again in the last few days as ITN news have been reporting on “no fault evictions”. Some of the footage was made at the point of eviction. 35,000 people will have lost their homes before legislation will ban this practice. Apart from this, Shelter’s latest figures show at least 271,000 are recorded as homeless in England, including 123,000 children. Over 3000 are sleeping rough. Of course we are also only too aware of well over a million Palestinians who have had to flee their homes in Gaza in the last two weeks. These are just some of the stories. Worldwide millions are forced to leave their homes because of war, famine, floods and other climatic conditions.

All this is overwhelming and can leave us feeling guilty and helpless. There are good news stories however of those who have been able to offer their homes to Ukrainians and other refugees especially since the Russian invasion and it is heartening to see how it’s not just been a matter of offering a safe place or a roof over their heads, but all that comes from a loving home. New initiatives are becoming established such as Shared Lives Plus. Their ‘vision is for a kinder, stronger society built on sharing our lives and homes.’ A number of people I know in Leeds have offered their homes to children in need of fostering and adoption.

Whatever we can do in making our homes available to others, for however short or long, is always so much appreciated, but it is also good when they feel at home in the sense of knowing they are accepted and loved unconditionally. “home is not a place it’s a feeling”

Here are a few more quotes which may help us in creating more of a sense of home in what we can offer to others, especially as we approach this Christmas season

The ache for home lives in all of us” Mayo Angelo

“Home interprets heaven. Home is heaven for beginners” Charles Henry

“Home isn’t where you’re from – it’s where you find light when all grows dark” Pierce Brown

Let us pray for those who have no sense of home. Let us do what we can to make others feel at home whoever they are, realising for all of us “Our earthly home is not our true home, because we have a better home and an abiding one in heaven.” Hebrews 10v34