THIS WEEK, ERIN AND I ARE UP NORTH VISITING FAMILY in Pittsburgh, PA, and in the Borden/Woodhull, NY metroplex. Over the last few years, these trips have taken on special meaning as we spend time in places that were, respectively, home for each of us. My sister and her husband now own the house in which I lived for seven years prior to college, and Erin's parents still have the house in which she was raised from the age of 5.

This picture was taken last Memorial Day from the hill on which Erin's parents live. The pile of dirt is from a trench that was dug to provide utilities to the house Erin's brother and his wife have built on the same land that has been in the family for a century or more. The view to which Anna is pointing is the same view that generations of Anna's family before her have seen, and the hill is part of Anna's story, even as she lives nowhere near there. In fact, the address is on Hurd Hill Road, named for her family.

I've been going to the hill for 19 years now, and as I indicated in a Facebook post after our Memorial Day 2018 visit, I feel it is a home for me as well. Although I was not raised there, Erin and her family have helped make it a place of connecting with family and friends, some of whom are now at rest in what is considered the family cemetery at the bottom of the hill. Erin will tell you that as our current trip has gotten closer, I was getting more and more anxious to go, for the hill is now a part of my story.

Anna is just now getting to the age where she will start having memories of her experiences. Joseph has not yet gotten to that point. And, yet, they, too, are through their once or twice yearly trips getting acclimated to the hill, and the generations after theirs will tell the stories of them being on the hill with all that comes with being part of the family. Through pictures and stories, they too, will find the hill a home because not only will I and Erin make it a priority to incorporate them into the hill, but so will all their aunts, uncles, cousins, second cousins, and others.

What's this got to do with anything? Well, friends, that hill is like a church congregation. Those who are part of it have the right and responsibility to ensure that it is shared with others from beyond the current family and to build upon it so the next generations will feel that it is a home as well.

Who is it that needs a home at your local church?

Who is it that God is calling you to invite to the family homestead to become part of the story?

Go. Invite them. Bring them into the fold through the story of Christ's grace initiated by God's love empowered by the Holy Spirit that has transformed lives by the God's work in the ministries of what is now your local church.

Grace and Peace, Lamar