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Kenya: Rediscovering the Church as Family of God

In the Gospels, we hear much of Jesus spending time in people’s homes and houses. At those occasions he either taught or healed people. The response of those whose houses were visited was conversion. The Apostles must have been used to house visitations so that when they began their ministry after the experience of the resurrection and Pentecost, we find that the communion, the breaking of the bread and sharing of the word of God amongst believers were conducted in homes.  Over the centuries, homes and families have remained the cradle of worship with some homes of devout faithful having altars for worship.

Amid the Covid 19 pandemic, I had a chance to be on leave at home, Homa-Bay, Kenya. During that period I was invited or invited myself to several homes, especially of the elderly Christians who are not allowed to attend public worship at the Churches. It was a very moving experience as to the depth of faith shown by them. The inability to attend mass made them anxious and little would be said to calm their worries of “being away from Christ for a whole month” as one lady described her anguish.

The entire visit was a deep faith experience; most would start by lamenting or feeling sorry for not having been able to participate in Eucharistic celebration for a long time, we would then share life experience either the past or current that would be punctuated by tears, laughter, a sigh or just silence. All the shared experiences would be our offerings at the Eucharist. The end was marked by a shared meal that was a real celebration of gratitude and joy. The experience made a great impact on me. Despite the Covid 19 regulations of social distancing and protection, the closeness, personal touch, warmth, and intimacy of the celebration brought the spiritual awareness of God at work in and through every believer in a unique way.

As we slowly learn to live with Covid 19 and return to a new normal, could the Church today, like the early Christians re-discover the Church as a family of God, making homes the center of worshiping.  Covid 19 need not to keep people away from Christ but allow Christ to be made manifest not only in the large gatherings for worship, but more so in the homes and families. Amidst all the challenges of Covid 19, there are signs of great faith amongst the people made visible in ways in which they reach out to those in need in their neighbourhoods. Whatever house you enter, first say ‘peace be to this household.’ (Luke 10:5.)

Philip Adede Amek mhm

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