'Today I have three words for you: Home. Place. Land.'
Pastor Paul Cameron was the Executive Officer of Churches of Christ in Victoria and Tasmania from 2003 to 2017.
He recently shared his thoughts on the importance of home with a Habitat for Humanity Partner Family.
Read his address below.
I acknowledge and pay respect to the Waring-illum-balluk 'river dwelling' clan of the Taungurung people as the traditional owners of the land on which we stand. That simple statement has been repeated often, with appropriate local variations, all around Australia over recent years.
Some find it a bit superfluous or unnecessary. However I have found it an interesting challenge; how much does land and place enter into my (and our) sense of worth and being? How connected am I to my (are we to our) neighbourhood?
I was born in Mildura, in North West Victoria. I went to primary and secondary school there. I started my first job there. For many years I would go ‘home’ to visit my parents, who now have passed away, and have a different address now. Whenever I visit though, as I do, it still feels like going ‘home’: The red sandy soil, the vines, the Murray, the clear heat of the day; some familiar faces: Home. Place. Land.
In 2010 my wife and I visited Scotland. We walked around Greenock, the port town from which my great-great-grandfather and his first wife and child sailed to Australia in 1841. We went to Paisley, the mill town where they had lived. We found in the local library a copy of the Paisley Advertiser with an advertisement on the front page seeking passengers for the ship’s trip to Port Phillip. I had found another home. This place was ‘my land’: Land. Place. Home.
It can be important to have a home. A place to call your own. My wife and I bought our first home just 11 years ago. It is still a special feeling to drive up our street in Croydon and turn into No. 92, a place of hospitality and even of refuge: Place. Land. Home.
Today we celebrate a vision realised and a dream fulfilled. Today marks the beginning of a new chapter in this family’s narrative. It is a chapter that tells a story of newly developed land, and place, and home; it is an account of generosity, hospitality and a shared responsibility.
In another time altogether a group of displaced people, exiles in a strange land, were urged by their God, the one true God, to “Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat what they produce… (to) seek the wellbeing of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its wellbeing you will find your wellbeing” (Jeremiah 29:5-8).
This home is an indication that together we have built a house, and that Nicole and her family are settling here, and “planting gardens”, on this land, in this time, and place, and culture; and that together we are prayerfully seeking the wellbeing of this town and its people.
That story, and many other life-giving ones like it, are contained in this ‘big book’ we are giving you today; a ‘big book’—the Bible—that is actually a collection of little ‘books’ about God and people and life; each providing a ‘foundation’ for living life to the full.