DIRTY FINGERNAILS, RED SHOES, HOMES & BEDROOM TAXES

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When my daughter was young we watched the Wizard of Oz so many times the video tape (remember them?) nearly wore out and I got to know the script almost word for word. My daughter is at university now and being middle aged these days my memory isn’t what it used to be, or my waist size for that matter, but I still remember one line from Dorothy, well actually three lines. These lines came when she clicked her red shoes together.

THERE’S NO PLACE LIKE HOME
THERE’S NO PLACE LIKE HOME
THERE’S NO PLACE LIKE HOME

I suspect that Dorothy’s words have probably stayed with me because they resonate with something deep inside us all, the desire for, and love, of home. Of course when I say home I mean so much more than just a roof and bricks and mortar, that’s just a house. Home is about relationships, memories, safety and security, nurture and community and much, much more. Home also is fundamental to being human. The great contemporary American poet Maya Angelou put this intrinsic human need for home like this, “The ache for home lives in all of us.”

As a Christian I approach the whole subject of home from the perspective of my faith. I just wanted to very quickly sketch what that understanding is. Christianity believes that God is the primal homemaker. We believe in a God with dirty fingernails, a God who rolls up His sleeves, creates and builds. However we understand the book of Genesis there is one thing that can’t be misunderstood, God built a home for humanity and humanity for a home. All of that means that this ache we have as human beings for home is a God given desire for us to live the way he intended us to live. We are getting into some deep theology here but stick with me. As Christians we uniquely believe in a Trinitarian God which means among other things that we believe in a God who has always existed in a state of loving, nurturing, enriching, sustaining, meaning giving, relationships in a safe and secure environment. That understanding of God has huge implications for how we understand what it means to be human as Scripture tells us we are created in God’s Image. I would argue that an important part of being created in God’s Image is that we are created to thrive in the same environment and that the experience of home is therefore an important and indispensable part of God’s plan for how we do that. From a Christian perspective “home” is vital to being fully human.

Sadly, for growing numbers in our contemporary culture in the UK, Dorothy’s words are not a description of a longing to return to a home but rather of a longing just to have one. For all too many there is literally no place like home. Some are excluded from the experience of home, by homelessness or low pay which means the deposit now needed to secure a mortgage will never be within their reach. Many others can’t put down the roots which nurture home because of short term leases and high rents. We are also currently seeing people losing their homes either through repossession and expect many more to do so through the impact of the upcoming so called “bed room tax.” This new “tax” means that some of the most vulnerable people in our society will no longer have the right or ability to have a long term stable home as their circumstances change. Older people with life long family memories in a home which is surrounded by supportive neighbours and friends will need to move and divorced fathers and mothers may no longer be able to have overnight access with their children as they will not be able to afford to have a spare bedroom for them.

In a future a blog I am planning to expand on this but to me it seems a key feature of Jesus’ mission was returning people who were excluded from the experience to homes and communities. Lepers, who were forced to live on the edge of society were through Jesus’s actions returned to their family homes. The Gospels also show Jesus returning the demon possessed and disabled to the full experience of home as part of coming of the Kingdom of God. As a Christian I want to share to Jesus’ heart, I want His concerns to be my concerns and I can come to no other conclusion than that he was passionately concerned about people being excluded from the environment and experience of having a home. I am going to be expanding on how I understand the Christian perspective on home in the weeks to come. Right now I just want to say that we cannot claim to serve the God of the Bible and not be concerned about what concerns Him. His concerns must shape our concerns and of course be expressed in our conduct. God attitudes, especially as revealed in Jesus, must be embodied in our actions if we are not to be accused of being hypocritical when it comes to claiming to be God’s people. It’s unavoidable to me therefore to have a concern about people being excluded and prevented from being able to have a home in our culture.

I am excited about now being able to be channel this God given concern into a positive response to the problem. I am passionate and committed to the work of the Caledonian Foundation a new Scottish charity because I believe it does just that. The Caledonian Foundation has designed a solution to address the problem of people experiencing social exclusion through being unable to have a stable home in which they feel they belong and which they feel to some extent belongs to them. Today the Caledonian Foundation is launching its new web site which will give the details of how they intend to do that, you can access the site through the link below.

Could I ask you to do a couple of things?

Have a look at the web site and what we are proposing and give us some feedback about what is being proposed, do you understand it, do you share the vision, do you have any questions?

If you support what we are doing could you help us promote it through social media.?We have no real budget for publicity and so need people to help us get our message out. Would you consider sharing our link or this blog on FaceBook and / or promoting us through Twitter?

This is the most difficult but crucial one, would you consider supporting our work by either giving a one off or regular gift or by taking part in our up coming “by a brick campaign” designed to get our first family into their home?

CALEDONIAN FOUNDATION

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