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Sisu, Koe ‘āunofo. Jesus, the Homeless

By Mele Niumeitolu in All Sorts

we seek a place of refuge, mental and physical safety, yet Jesus asks us to be willing to be homeless and to find our refuge in God

Sisu, Koe ‘āunofo.
Jesus, the Homeless
"Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place
to lay his head."
It was a cold and dark night
All was not calm nor bright
Joseph searched for fresh dry hay
Hoping it did not give animal’s stench away
Sweat and tears, screams and groans
Mary summoned her last strength and then let go
A new-born boy child has been born
The Son of Man the world would scorn
Helplessly he laid in swaddled cloths
Asleep on the animals feeding trough
While weary Mary looked upon his face
Pondering the call she had embraced
Tis the child that measured the waters
Who touched the mountains and they smouldered
There he lay the Weak Conqueror
Like a lamb ‘bout to be led for slaughter
I’ve had enough, I said to myself breaking down in tears, crouching
beside the drawer, with my wet clothes scattered across the floor. My room had leaked badly, with a frying pan, a bucket, pots and bowls filled with water, there was nothing I could do, the leakage had gotten worse, it was literally raining on my bed. The wet damp carpet gave a strong stinky odour that I could no longer bear. I had to move to a dry and warmer place. It wasn’t the leakage that made me sad, it was the constant motion of moving from place to place. You see I was a migrating student from Tonga, with very little means, I lived a life of couch surfing and sleeping in my friend’s bed, for a year, I saw how the lack of stability had affected my studies. So, I looked to Dunedin with its low cost of living as my saving grace. A place as Jesus had said, where I would finally “lay my head.” Now I never knew the reality of what his words literally meant, but there I was feeling vulnerable, powerless, fragile, insecure and unstable again. Reliving my past experiences, I remember lying on my friends couch in Auckland, my third home in a month, starring at my books at the end of the couch I let out a sigh with tears in my eyes, “Lord” I mumbled, “I need a home,” I woke up early that morning and stumbled upon a psalm where David seeks refuge to God’s tent forever,1 that refuge that he seeks weighs more than physical refuge but that of emotional, spiritual and mental refuge from the inconsistencies, pain and brokenness of life. The Tongan translation of the word ‘refuge’ in this psalm is ‘āunofo which has a wide range of meanings and connotations, if separated, the word ‘au means ‘tide movement, drifting or water flowing and nofo means to stay. This refers to a movement that is temporary there to stay, like the movement of the tides, that comes and goes. There are more than one dimensions to the term ‘āunofo but are relatively related, physically, spiritually and psychologically. It could refer to a person whom is without a place or feel out of place. In the physical dimension, ‘āunofo could be a stranger, a sojourner, a refugee, a seeker, a migrant, a person without a constant place to stay. Spiritually it could mean seeking solace, solitude, protection and rest. Psychologically it could be seeking clarity, stability, security or purpose. For David to seek refuge in God’s tent (tabernacle) clearly means more than just physical refuge, for better is one day in His court then a thousand days elsewhere (Ps. 84:10) For David one day in God’s presence is more to him than a thousand days elsewhere, where God dwells is where David dwells. God is his home, God is where he belongs, where he finds solace and solitude from life’s trials. It is also where he finds clarity, security, strength and purpose.
"Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place
to lay his head."
From the gospels of Matthew and Luke, after the feeding of the five thousand, healing the sick, and being rebuked from Samaria, a certain man declares his loyalty to Jesus, that wheresoever he goes there he would go. Into which Jesus replies, Foxes has holes and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head. The imagery drawn here by Jesus is ‘home’ a place of ‘refuge,’ for no matter where the fox may trot in the forest, they know where to run to in time of danger. And no matter how far the distance birds of the air fly, they know where to return to, for shelter and rest. It is in ‘knowing’ your home or place, one is psychologically secured that where ever you go and whatever you face, you always have a place to run to or return to for rest. The ‘foxes
hole’ and ‘birds nest’ is more than just a geographical safe place, it offers mental comfort and stability in knowing that there is a place that you can “lay your head.”
What Jesus means to say, that in following him, you lose your sense of ‘home,’ your comfort zone, the familiar parameters of life that you’ve always been used to. In following him, psychologically, emotionally you will not ‘fit,’ you will feel ‘out of place’. Your move beyond the boundaries of your limited understanding and familiar perceptions of things, you’ve embarked on a journey of the unknown, one that can only be walked through faith and not by sight. Your place of refuge moves from a geographical location to God’s presence and his will for you, everything else is unsettling. Following Jesus, one has to be willing to give up their ‘nest,’ or their ‘hole’. Following Jesus, one must be willing to be homeless. The treasure is, Jesus the homeless makes his home in
you, as one abides in him, he abides in you.

“What on Earth Are Swaddling Clothes? | BYU New Testament Commentary.” Accessed December 4,
2018. https://www.BYUNewTestamentCommentary.com/what-on- earth-are-swaddling-clothes/.
Setting: - The plane has now reached New Zealand, Mele slides up the window for a view, over the mountainous, rugged and hilly terrain of greenery, a far cry from the flat terrace of coconut trees that she was used to, “what a beautiful country, very different from home” she thought to herself,
As we draw near Christmas, our minds gather together sweet, bitter memories of home, a passing of a loved one, or the simple joys and gratitude of meeting familiar faces of loved ones who are still with us. However festive we would celebrate Christmas, the reality of the heavy rain and hail had caused a leakage in my room, now I had a bucket, a frying pan, a pot and a bowl all laid out simultaneously to catch the drips and drops of the leak. I have moved my bed from the centre to the corner of the room to miss a another leak, which had been dripping on top of my bed.