Common Ground Editorial: October 2021

In the past year, many of us will have spent more time at home than in any other context. With the impact of lockdowns and altered work patterns, how we think and feel about “home” has become—let’s say—layered and complex, as comfort is tainted by cabin fever and as our settled places are shaken. And behind COVID-19, other, even more intractable forces of history and the marketplace continue to push and pull on our sense of what it means—how it is possible—to make a home.

In the midst of this, it’s good to recognise that Scripture’s portrayal of home is more than a match for contemporary experience, whether it be God’s gift of land to a formerly enslaved people, the cataclysmic experience of exile and homelessness, or the promise of return and restoration. Central to all this is the call to attend to God who makes his home among us and who calls us to dwell with—in—him. In these next two editions of Common Ground, we’re exploring this biblical theme of home. Next month, we’ll step out onto the joyful pathway of Advent by pondering the mystery of God in Jesus, who makes his home among us and who calls us to dwell in him. But this month we turn first to this call and good task—to make a home.

Having spent most of her adult life flatting, Sarah Hudson (née Deutscher) was amazed to be able to buy a house in the Melbourne suburb of Heathmont. It was a hope realised. But, in recent months, as the pandemic has taken hold, she’s found herself reflecting on where her hope of home really lies. Owning a house is one thing, but what really are the wellsprings of home for us? Prepare to be both encouraged and challenged in this month’s lead article. Melody Cooper’s latest offering composes a good companion piece to Sarah’s article; as much meditation as photo essay, it invites us to expand our vision of home. We know you’ll enjoy lingering with these quietly provocative images. Also provocative is this month’s From the Tradition column: Andrew Shamy shuns his Levi’s in favour of a 4th century monk’s habit and cell to listen to John Cassian on restlessness.

And then what does it look like, actually, to make a home? Rev. Mark Barnard invites us over to his place to ponder two life-shaping pieces of furniture, around which he’s learned, with his wife Bridget, how to make a home influenced by table fellowship with Jesus. Alongside Mark’s wisdom you’ll find that of Sam Bloore with our Monthly Practice: letting art illuminate your home. Finally, we’re delighted to share a Field Notes interview with Hannah Chapman. She reflects on her rich and profound experience of home and her whānau’s return to their whenua in Tūrangi, previously taken by the Crown in the 1960s. It’s a story of home-making, of a re-established papakainga, which has become a blessing and shelter for many, many people.

In these hampered times, may this and all the offerings here be an encouragement to you as you take up, each day, the call to make a home, wherever—and however—this finds you.

Nga mihi nui,

John Dennison, Editor.