John 14: 2. In my Father’s House there are many rooms; if it were not so I would not have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you.
While this scripture is often cited to talk about God’s provision for us after death, I see this scripture as a model of hospitality and a reminder of God’s provision.
The scripture says there are “many rooms.” I imagine that some of those rooms are modest and some are museum-quality models. The rooms vary in shape, size and design. There are many rooms; however there is only one house where we are united under God’s providence and protection.
Currently our guests and residents are living in “rooms” which are very modest. For some, it may be a tent or a lean-to or a cardboard shelter under a bridge or in a doorway.
The residents at the Cecil County Men’s Shelter share a room with two or three other men. The only resident who has a room to himself is constantly interrupted by the men who are going through his room to get to theirs through the only access point. Other than the bedrooms the only spaces at the Men’s Shelter are an office, two living rooms, and the kitchen. Even the office space is shared. There is no space for quiet reflection or space to devote to a hobby or productive activity.
The women and children at Wayfarers’ House each have a designed room, but bathroom facilities are shared as are all other “common” rooms. While this arrangement fosters community, it is sometimes difficult for the children and mothers to have time and space for themselves to work on projects or complete homework—activities better suited for the kitchen table rather than perched on the bed.
For some, perching on the bed sounds like a joy then can only imagine. They want to be out of the elements, able to put up their weary feet, and rest for a moment from the traumas of everyday survival.
While it is interesting to think about all these places and their variety, I believe the scripture is not so much about place as it is about preparation.
Jesus talks about preparing a place. As you can imagine, there are constant preparation and upkeep tasks at Meeting Ground and the Cecil County Men’s Shelter. We are grateful to the volunteers who repair and paint, and the myriad of tradespeople who repair, replace, and upgrade the three facilities so that we can welcome the sojourner and assist them on their journey along the path to home. We prepare not just a current place, a respite, a safe place along the way. We prepare for permanent placement. We prepare connecting people to services as well as providing temporarily for their basic human needs. That preparation takes patience and skill similar to preparing a place. First, we build a foundation of trust and then begin to set in place all the services needed for people to accomplish the goal of securing safe and stable housing.
Over all these places/rooms there is one covering: prayer. Prayer brings all the pieces and places together in a cohesive whole. Prayer links people and our facilities. Provision comes through prayer. Please join us in prayer that all people will find the place prepared for them.