I love living in Johannesburg, there are few places like it. It is one of my favourite places in the world, not least because of friends I have made in the four or so years that I have been here. (Has it really been that long?) In many ways it feels like home…and yet in so many ways it is not.
I love London, there are few places like it. It is one of my favourite places in the world, not least because of friends and family there. And in many ways London is home…and yet in so many ways it is not. I cannot wait to fly into Heathrow in a few weeks and be back on British soil for the first time in one and half years. But it will be strange, I spoke to a student at Johannesburg Bible College who said he visited London twice over six months and he was struck how it had changed. What will be different after one and half years? I can always tell you what has changed in Wimbledon High Street, although that is somewhat novel it is the more the personal changes which make it all stranger. Friends whom you know and love and yet life has moved on for them in your absence. Nieces and nephews who have grown, a lot! The realization that you don’t quite fit where you used to. They call it reverse culture shock. It is all a symptom of home being neither here nor there.
Over the last few months at Christ Church in two different ways (not entirely planned but pleasantly providential) we’ve been on a journey home. As we looked at the Songs of Ascent in the Psalms, they gave us the picture of the journey of a believer heading not to an earthly home but to a heavenly one. A journey where our hope wasn’t just things would be better but everything would be put right. This world is like everything has put out of place but one day it will all be put back. The journey we have followed in Luke’s gospel is also to home, Luke 9:51 speaks of the time drawing near for Jesus to be taken up. The journey is not to Jerusalem but through Jerusalem to heaven. And Jesus calls us to follow him in this journey.but warns ‘Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.’ To follow Jesus is to join the journey which means we’re not yet home.
London is no longer quite home and Johannesburg, as much as I love it, is not really home. And perhaps that is because I am a Londoner who lives in Johannesburg and don’t really belong to either. Or perhaps that is because, home, is a city that I haven’t reached yet but when I do, there I will belong.
If you are in London (or the UK), your reading this and you’d like to catch up let me know. (That is if I know you not if you’re just some mad person my blog! Although you are welcome.)