All created beings find their home in God. We believe God's grace provides our ultimate sense of home. This is eternal and abundant living as promised by Jesus the Christ. We are all connected as part of God’s creation. As long as homelessness exists in any form, for even one of God’s created beings, we all suffer the pain and shoulder the responsibility. Until homelessness is truly eradicated, we all homeless.
We believe therefore that:
Everyone needs a spiritual home.
Everyone needs an emotional home.
Everyone needs a physical home.
The mission of Grace Avenue UMC is to:
ERADICATE HOMELESSNESS IN WHATEVER FORM IT PRESENTS ITSELF.
A Spiritual Home
As Christians our spiritual home is called "church". It is not simply a place of attendance and observation, but rather a place of belonging and engagement. In this way, church is our touchstone or "home base" from which we encounter the larger world. The church is a means of grace.
This is why we are constantly inviting others to a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ through the church. All of our church experiences, church groups, church programs and church buildings are tools for creating a community of faith. We are, therefore, compelled to care for one another as a congregation, but also constantly open the "doors" wider to those who are without a "church" home.
"We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience." --Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
Sermon About Spiritual Homelessness by Rev. Billy Echols-Richter (Watch)
An Emotional Home
Human life is often torn apart because of loneliness and fear. When people are not emotionally safe they will lash out and attack without provocation. Others withdraw into states of despair and depression. Our experience teaches us that loved people love and hurt people hurt. When people have an emotional home, they thrive in their sense of well-being and vocation.
As followers of Christ we seek to comfort those in distress, heal the brokenhearted, befriend the downcast and welcome the stranger. We will stand in solidarity with those who have been neglected, abused, bullied and oppressed. We will protect and advocate for those in our society who are most vulnerable including children and the elderly; the disabled and the disadvantaged. We will seek to share love, kindness and mutual respect with everyone including those who are different than us. We will learn about and promote mental health and well-being.
"Then the Lord God said, 'It's not good that the human is alone.'"
--Genesis 2:18a CEB
Sermon About Emotional Homelessness by Rev. Billy Echols-Richter (Watch)
Mental Health Resources
A Physical Home
The physical need for shelter is one of the most basic of all human requirements.
A physical home is not a luxury but a necessity. Physical homelessness tears at the fabric of any society.
The compassionate and justice-seeking example of Jesus drives us to eliminate physical homelessness. Many in our community and world do not have a physical structure in which to live. Some have lost their homes in natural disasters and untimely accidents. Some live in structures that are in total disrepair. Some have been driven out of their homes by war, conflict and violence, and all of us must be aware of the condition of our planet which we collectively call home. Through faith we must claim that we have the capacity and resourcefulness to address the problem of physical homelessness.
"The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the adundance of those who have much; is is whether we provide enought for those who have too little." --Franklin D. Roosevelt
Sermon About Physical Homelessness by Rev. Billy Echols-Richter (Watch)
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EVERYONE NEEDS A HOME
When Jesus says: "Make your home in me as I make mine in you," he offers us an intimate place that we can truly call "home". Home is that place or space where we do not have to be afraid but can let go of our defenses and be free, free from worries, free from tensions, free from pressures. Home is where we can laugh and cry, embrace and dance, sleep long and dream quietly, eat, read, play, watch the fire, listen to music and be with a friend. Home is where we can rest and be healed. The word "home" gathers a wide range of feelings and emotions up into one image, the image of a house where it is good to be: the house of love.
But in this world millions of people are homeless. Some are homeless because of their inner anguish, while others are homeless because they have been driven from their own towns and countries. In prisons, mental hospitals, refugee camps, in hidden away city apartments, in nursing homes and overnight shelters we get a glimpse of the homelessness of the people of our time.
Probably no word better summarizes the suffering of our time than the word "homeless". It reveals one of our deepest and most painful conditions, the condition of not having a sense of belonging, of not having a place where we can feel safe, cared for, protected and loved."
Heri Nouwen, Lifesigns