What is home? Where is home? What makes a place a home? According to the Rev. David Maxfield, a pastor at Christ Lutheran Church in Minot, "Home is a place in our heart that we all yearn for and long for, but more often than not, it's the people." He added that the strongest images for life with God is at home.
The pastors of Christ Lutheran, Maxfield and the Rev. Michael Johnson, are offering to stop over and bless peoples' homes as many of their members are moving into new homes, apartments or FEMA trailers. Blessing a home involves a candle, Bible verses and a prayer for each room of the home asking God to be a guest.
Maxfield reflected on the common practice of welcoming guests into the home and thought the same could work with welcoming God into peoples' new homes. He speculated that someone could take the common table prayer of "Come, Lord Jesus, be our guest, and let these gifts to us be blessed" and say it in every room of the house. God is where the people are, he said.
The sanctuary of Christ Lutheran Church, 502-17th St. NW, post-flood and where services will be held today at 5 p.m. and on Sunday at 9:30 a.m. This home has already received a blessing.
To bless a house, the family, with or without a pastor, depending on the preference, would walk through their house with a candle and say the simple table prayer of inviting Jesus to be their guest. The pastor could also give the family Bible verses and they could choose whichever ones they want to bless each room in their house. Maxfield said, "Coming into dwellings that aren't their homes but are their new homes, a candle shows that they're not alone. God is with us everywhere. Blessed is the ordinary, for that is where God dwells."
The blessing of a house can be done as often as a family wants or feels necessary and can be done in a formal or informal manner. The official rite of blessing a home can be found in the book of Pastoral Care that pastors typically have on hand. The idea of blessing a home isn't uniquely Lutheran, either. This blessing can be done by any religion. It's also something that's been done in other places, except Maxfield isn't sure if it's been done in flooded areas. The roots of it reach back to ancient Sabbath tradition and Jewish prayers, though. He said some pastors even go so far as to make blessing certificates for homes and he will do so if the family insists. Maxfield has even performed blessings for people moving to assisted living facilities to help them know that God is with them in their sorrow.
The word about blessing a home is getting out, which Maxfield feels is important since Christ Lutheran Church is not at "home," but sharing a space with Bethany Lutheran Church. Maxfield said blessing homes is just an idea that has been started but has been brewing for awhile. He sees it as a way of bringing God into ordinary life, raising awareness of God, a way of saying that people aren't alone, and helping to connect any day in the week to Sunday so that all of life is where God walks.
Of course, there will always be opposition by those who think the idea of blessing a home is foolish, although Maxfield said that the concept seems so timely and could speak beyond words of the whole notion of home. He wondered, "Why can't God show up in the valley walking in buildings with sanitized studs or in improvised schools?"
Although Maxfield's home was not directly affected by the flood, his heart is touched very deeply by others' loss of homes. He estimated that 25 to 30 percent of his congregation has been affected. This idea of blessing of peoples' homes wouldn't have risen if things would've stayed like they were pre-flood.
The blessing of the home ritual will be introduced at the service today at 5 p.m. and on Sunday at 9:30 a.m. Those will be the first services back at Christ Lutheran Church since the flood hit. Maxfield advises people to wear a jacket, bring a light and bring a chair.
Maxfield can be reached at 833-5746.