House Warming

Plan a family-friendly blessing for your new home

It was a Sunday night worship experience I'll never forget. There was singing, Scripture reading, and heartfelt prayer. No, it wasn't at church. It wasn't even a church service. It was a house blessing at the home of our close friends.

The concept of a house blessing isn't new. Moses talked about writing God's commands on our doorframes and our gates in Deuteronomy 6:9. In fact, many Christian traditions, such as the Episcopal Church, have used the house blessing for centuries. But while these formal house blessings are typically performed by a priest, anyone can invite God to be part of a family dwelling. It can be a quiet occasion, or a new take on a housewarming party. Either way, a house blessing will help your family feel settled in your new abode.

That sense of home is especially important for children. According to Carol Burge, a marriage and family counselor in suburban Chicago, children look at their home differently when it is set apart by prayer. She says, "Children need their home to be a place of refuge from the world. A house blessing reminds them that the Holy Spirit is present in every room of their house."

The Heart of the Home

Peter and Elizabeth Roskam, a couple in our church fellowship group, had just moved across town. In the midst of moving boxes and painting walls they asked if I would help them lead their young family in a ceremony of dedication. I'd never been asked to be part of anything quite like this before. It sounded meaningful—and fun—so I said yes.

When my wife, Wendy, and I arrived, we were greeted with hugs and smiles. In addition to Peter and Elizabeth and their four kids (ages 6 to 13), Peter's mom was on hand. We gathered in the kitchen where 13-year-old Gracey offered us just-baked chocolate chip cookies. As we nibbled away, I kicked things off by reading the story of the wise man who builds his house on a solid foundation (Matt. 7:24-27).

Then we all headed outside to the front entry. We gathered on the porch and thanked the Lord for giving the Roskam family such a beautiful home and asked God to bless all who would enter in it. (A few years ago, I traveled to Israel and carried back some Jordan River water. I brought a small plastic bottle of the water and splashed it on the front door as a way of acknowledging the Lord's presence. The kids thought it was cool!)

As we walked over the threshold, Peter prayed that family, friends, and guests would be able to sense the Father's presence in their home. Then it was on to each room of the main floor. We stopped in each room and someone prayed a specific prayer related to the use of that room.

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