Monday, October 5, 2015

Homecoming





Today was homecoming at the church we attend in Nashville. It didn’t really feel like homecoming, to newcomers like us, but it was a wonderful uplifting atmosphere nonetheless. Our speakers recalled church history and spoke on the meaning of home. There were hugs from old friends found again and a barbecue lunch for all with music and games. Whether visitors, new members, or friends from afar returned, all were welcomed as a part of the coming-home.  I felt blessed to be a part of a church where coming home held special meaning and it left me thinking about home.

I haven’t been home in a long time. There is a saying that “Home is a place you grow up wanting to leave, and grow old wanting to get back to.” I left Birmingham to come back to Middle Tennessee almost five years ago. I thought moving back so close to where I grew up would mean I would find easy belonging. I was wrong. The familiarity tears wide open a longing that the place itself cannot provide. It is universally true and yet it feels so personal. The country roads still lead to the same house of my youth and people still gather inside, but they are not my people and it is not my home.  My childhood home no longer exists.  In my favorite Billy Joel song, “You’re My Home” he relates that home can be anywhere as long as he is with the one he loves. I believe this and it gives me hope and I make a new home and fiercely love all that gather here. But, they keep growing up and are leaving more than they are coming lately, and I feel like a Christmas tree left up until Easter. Everyone is celebrating a new season and I am a bit droopy and out of place. And again, I search for home and look forward to homecoming.

As our speaker said this morning, home is not a place any more than the church is a place; a home and the church are its people. And what I realized today in worship, is that if God’s family and its people are my home as Billy J. says, “I will never be a stranger and I’ll never be alone…cause home is just another word for you  church” And, lately I have been feeling more and more like I come home every Sunday. I see smiling faces of new friends and remember the details of their journeys I am beginning to know and cherish. I visit today with the new mom behind me who was once just a pregnant stranger. Today, as she pats her baby’s back to the rhythm of life all around us, we exchange baby stories and relate as only mothers can.  The couple to my right buried a brother this week and I hug the wife after service because I know; I have stood at the grave too many times myself. The elderly man (whose seat we may or may not have taken by accident) misses his wife who is in a nursing home with Alzheimer’s disease, and he loves to tell us stories about the many people he knows and has known. He blesses us every Sunday with his memories and love of life. In the world where we make people our home we are tossed about – never knowing what news and change will batter us next. In God’s Church, we are anchored- whatever the storm. Fragile and in transition separately, together we are a stable home – never changing. Together we are a people called with a common purpose, tied together by a common love, and held together by a common hope in Jesus. We can come home every Sunday. Because we gather. Whoever is left. Until he comes.

#homecoming #wearethechurch #justwrite