Community Christian Reformed Church is a small church in an urban neighborhood in Wyoming, Michigan, that has the privilege of serving the physical, situational, emotional, and spiritual needs of people experiencing homelessness. We seek to offer both help and hospitality with the hope that everyone—housed or not—has a place to belong at Community.
This prayer can be used in a worship service or in a small group setting. The prayer may be useful for locating homelessness in a larger theological context, inviting reflection on the complexity of homelessness, and naming specific ways to confess and repent of our frequent distancing from the struggle of homelessness in our communities.
Call to Confession
How lovely is your dwelling place,
My soul yearns, even faints,
for the courts of the LORD;
my heart and my flesh cry out
for the living God.
Even the sparrow has found a home,
and the swallow a nest for herself,
where she may have her young—
a place near your altar,
LORD Almighty, my King and my God.
Prayer of Confession
God of all, you are a homemaker. In the beginning and from the beginning, you have been our homemaker. And you have made us a dwelling people, perfectly fitted to the home you make for us.
Why, Lord, have you made us a dwelling people in need of a home? Why do our hearts ache with sweet memories of place and yearn for somewhere safe to call our own, with people our own? Why have you planted so deeply in our hearts the expectation that there is a place of safety, rest, and welcome waiting for each of us?
Again and again we see in your Word, Lord, how sin has disrupted the dwelling life for which you made us. And again and again in your Word we see how you have helped your people get back home after journeys of exodus and exile. You are not a homemaker who sits idly at home waiting for us to arrive. You venture out, no matter the distance, and you journey with us, leading us home with you.
We don’t have to look far to see how the broken world we live in disrupts the dwelling life for which you made us. Sometimes it’s war or natural disaster that devastates homes. Sometimes it’s absent or broken relationships that leave people without homes: the shortage of mentoring adults to help young people aging out of the foster care system get a start on a stable adulthood; the deeply broken family bonds that leave someone utterly alone and friendless. Sometimes it’s absent or broken systems that leave people homeless: landlords who don’t want to rent apartments to people re-entering society after incarceration; unmanaged mental illness that makes navigating homeownership nearly impossible; the lack of affordable housing that makes it difficult for single-income families to pay rent; unmanageable health-care debt or the loss of income due to aging or other factors outside a person’s control. We lament these and other causes of homelessness, and we grieve the social acceptability of distancing ourselves from the plight of our homeless neighbors.
Break our hearts today, Lord, and open our eyes.
We confess that often we don’t bother to wonder why people are without a home. We aren’t always interested in what might not be working for there to be so much homelessness in our community. Forgive us for finding comfort in our ignorance.
We confess that we sometimes assume homelessness is a homeless person’s fault. We are easily overwhelmed when we consider that family and social systems can be so dysfunctional that they leave casualties of homelessness. Forgive us for finding comfort in convenient assumptions.
We confess that when poor choices lead to homelessness, we sometimes hear about it with hard hearts. We are not grieved over the ruin and debris of some lives. Forgive us for finding comfort in self-righteousness.
Move in us today, Lord, and open our hearts.
Let us become restless in our comfort. Grow in us a curiosity to better understand the tangled roots of homelessness in our community. Give us a faith that is not idle, but active. Give us courage and creativity to consider solutions to our homeless neighbors’ struggles. Break down in us the barriers of our ignorance, assumptions, and self-righteousness. Give us wide arms of welcome. Make our friendships, churches, and homes places of safe rest for those who need it. Give us your homemaking heart, Lord Jesus.
Our hearts long for the great homecoming you have promised, Lord. The true home we long for—a peaceful dwelling place, a secure home, an undisturbed place of rest—is found only in you, God of all. Amen.
Words of Assurance
How lovely is your dwelling place,
Better is one day in your courts
than a thousand elsewhere.
—Psalm 84:1, 10