Weblog – July 2014

Do you need the pastor’s help in moving to another house?

It didn’t happen to me in my pastoral role so far: a family asking to bless their new house after they have moved into it. As IREF-pastor I was asked to do so. I don’t know whether ‘bless’ is the right word. At any rate, one of the IREF families, David and Fera with their son Matthew asked me to prepare a small service in order to dedicate their house to God. I prepared a liturgy with Scripture readings, hymns and prayers and I led the small service to ask the blessing for their new home.

My family has moved several times and we always took a special moment to ask Christ to stay with us under the new roof in all the rooms. Never I thought to ask a pastor for that occasion (as if he could bring a special blessing…). When I was a pastor myself, I didn’t ask a colleague for the blessing.

Nevertheless, my wife and I sat at the table in the house of the (Indonesian) family. First of all to share a meal together: a tasteful sign of hospitality and Christian fellowship. After the meal: the blessing of the home. We read the Scriptures together and sung a couple of hymns. I explained shortly how Jesus brought blessing by visiting the people in their homes. Afterwards we prayed together and I asked God’s presence in this house and his blessing for all who came under this roof recently and for all who might stay here temporary as a guest, a family member or a friend.

 

No strange request

Of course, in Indonesia it is an important tradition in the Christian community and David and Fera want to practise part of this tradition while being in the Netherlands. Their main concern however is not to follow a tradition, but to realize the inner meaning of it:

  • to ask God’s presence and protection for the place where they will spend much time of their daily life -you never know what happened in this house in an earlier stage; it can be spiritually dirty or unclean;
  • to give back to God every room, because He is the real owner.
  • to pray for the new home, that it will be a place of peace and security for all who live here and all who will enjoy hospitality here.

They told us that in Indonesia the blessing of a new home is an important event in the Christian community. A complete church services takes place on the premises of the family in which the congregation also partakes. Hundreds of guests are welcomed for this occasion. A real test for the family: their hospitality will not be less in the new house! They realize that entering a new phase in life is not just a private matter for a person or a family. You pass the threshold together with the (Christian) fellowship and you need God’s help and blessing for it. Together you pass a threshold: when a baby is born and baptized, when somebody does confirmation or professes his or her faith in Christ, at the occasion of a marriage or when somebody passes away. But also moving to a new house is something that you do together with others and with God in particular.

 

Follow a good example

In our West-European rational and pragmatic world financial transactions like purchasing a house is carefully directed and safeguarded– not without reason! Often a lot of work is undertaken to adapt the house for the new inhabitants. Christians give a good witness by taking time to dedicate the place where they are going to live to God. By this they say: ‘There is more than a payable hypothec, a well furnished room, or a nicely reconstructed house. For us it is important that Christ lives here and that we receive the blessing of the Christian community.’

I will recommend not just the idea, but also the practice of ‘the blessing of a house’. I am happy to do my work as a pastor at such an occasion, on behalf of the congregation, and together with the congregation. And in case many are moving to another house within our congregation, we shouldn’t feel overloaded. We call for the help of our brothers and sisters in the church. God has more strings to his bow –or as the Dutch say: more irons in his fire- than just pastors to pray for the blessing of a new home…