Bible Reading: Psalm 127:1
“Unless the Lord builds the house,
those who build it labor in vain.
Unless the Lord guards the city,
the guard keeps watch in vain.”
We are gathered here to thank God for the love that can be seen in Philippe van den Dungen and Steffi van den Dungen-Liem. The wedding was celebrated and blessed on May 14th, in Pauluskerk, Tilburg, the Netherlands. We are here to give them our blessings and most of all, to thank God for their union. They are now building a home together.
A Dutch saying says, “Oost west, thuis best.” Wherever you are, home is the best place to be.
But where is your home?
If I were to ask Philip and Steffi, they would probably say that home is at Lagevaart 4, Kaatsheuvel. Steffi was living in Amstelveen, and Philip has always been a Brabaners (I don’t know how they call the people who live in Brabant area). But they already moved to a house in Kaatsheuvel. I would guess that they already made it a home, and probably lots of IKEA stuff too.
In English, and Dutch language, house – het huis, is different with home – thuis. A house is a property that has walls, doors, windows, the appliances to make your life comfortable. But a home is something different. Home is where your heart is.
Two days ago, during our trip to Bali, I had to go back to Jakarta for a work-related ‘emergency’. For your information, my family and I were driving to Bali for this special occasion, as a kind of quality time trip for us. That is more than 1200 km drive, or according to Google, a 23 hours drive from Jakarta to Nusa Dua, Bali. Our first stop was Jogyakarta. From there I flew back to Jakarta on Wednesday evening, had something to do on Thursday morning, and flew back to Jogyakarta on Thursday afternoon. But, when I arrived at home, in Jl. Proklamasi, I felt different. It was not home anymore. It was merely a house, and I slept in front of the TV, not knowing what to do. Apparently my “home” was left in Jogyakarta, and I only came back to a house. I realized that I was driving my home on this journey. I was home all the time.
Your home is where your heart is. In the future, Philip’s home will be where Steffi is, and vice versa. After 11 years of being together, which is a longer time-span than I knew the whole family Liem, you must find home in each other. I will not tell you about the message for good marriage, as Ds. Linandi has said during his sermon. I only want to mention about building and maintaining your home, with God as the owner of your home.
A home can be found in a house, but a house is not automatically a home.
In Asian culture, a house is often a home, because it is inseparable. A home, which is usually located on a piece of land, is connected with your identity. People are identified with the places where they came from, i.e. Ronny Liem of Kaatsheuvel, or the famous Dutch goalie, Hans van Breukelen. In most traditional culture, a house can never be sold. A house is not just a house, it is your identity, where you make so many memories, where you cry for the first time or have the delicious meal that you’ll always remember. It is where your family is. A house is the home.
In the bible, the word house (בַ֗יִת) is also home, and can be translated as household, where people dwell together. When the Bible mentions Beyith in Psalm 127, it means the house of the Lord in Jerusalem. For our reflection, we will read it as home. We have to let the LORD build the home, otherwise it will be useless.
However, in our time and age, people move all the time. Our guests here are literally coming from all over the world, USA, Canada, the Netherlands, Singapore, and different parts of Indonesia. They have been moving, and their houses must surely have been sold. We have to create our home. A home in our time is not always connected to a place.
How can we be at home in this ever-changing time?
So, where is your home? Who is your home? What situation is your home? How can you build a home?
“Unless the Lord builds the house [home], who build it labor in vain.”
A research mentions that the walls of the house can actually keep your emotion. That is why we have the stories of the haunted house. What happened is that the walls of the house will usually preserve the negative emotions from the event such as yelling, screaming of a victim, etc. We can also feel this emotion when we visit someone else’s house. Whenever I was with oom Ronny on our house visits, I can always feel whether there had been an argument recently between the people who lives there or not. So, good positive energy must be kept in your house (property), to make it a home.
That is why, the Psalm says, let the LORD leads and builds the home. Invite the LORD to be in your house; then your house will be home. The thing about that is, when the LORD is in your home, you will realize that the home is never yours. It is the LORD’s. You can always call the owner to help you with your problem. And, you cannot sell the home when the roof is leaking, or getting old and noisy, because it was never yours. The LORD will help you if you let God take over your family and builds you a home in your house in Kaatsheuvel.
So, Steffi and Philip, invite the LORD in your home. Ask for God’s guidance, visit the church (community – not the building). And should you need any more help with your “home-arrangements”, please let me know and I’ll help as much as I can. I consider Steffi as my sister too since oom Ronny and tante Yayang are my parents too. So, don’t hesitate to ask for prayers. Also, I think it is good to continue taking trips together, as you have already done in so many years, so you can be thankful for the presence of your other half, making histories together, experiencing home in different places, when the LORD is in the right place in your hearts.
May you two finds home in each other, and that other will be blessed by being near your home. Amen.
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