TRANSCRIPT: Good morning, Five Minute Families. This past Sunday our church celebrated its 129th Homecoming. I don’t remember having the tradition of a church homecoming growing up, so for those of you who are unfamiliar with a church homecoming as I once was, elements typically include a special message, special guests (usually leading worship), acknowledgement of church members who have died during the past twelve months, and a fellowship meal for reconnecting with church and the church family who have been called in new directions.
Interestingly, if you look up ‘homecoming’ on the internet, you will first see a lot about schools’ homecomings and the events that come before. When I was in high school, homecoming was a series of fun events such as a day-time parade or wacky dress-up days for the whole week with a football game on the roster for that Friday night. Someone was named queen earlier in the school year, and she presided over the events of the week and game night. We dressed our best and enjoyed dancing the evening away. Past members, alumni, and community visitors were not in any way on my radar growing up; I do not remember ever hearing about any events organized for them. I have long wanted to attend one of my high school’s homecomings.
Why do we feel pulled back – temporarily – to a time and place that life’s circumstances drew us from? Memes, poignant quotes, and even the story about Lot’s wife looking back longingly on her sinful life tell us we should move on and never look back. Yet, truly, there is a time to look back and reflect. Even Jacob was instructed by the Lord to return to his homeland after 20 years away. In Mark, the former demon-possessed man was told not to travel on with Jesus but to return home and tell others about what Jesus had done.
Home is more than just where one lives. Home is a feeling, home is an attitude, home is a memory holder and a heart molder. Home is an opportunity to reconnect and recharge. Home isn’t a place; home is family. Thus, if one definition of homecoming is “to return to a place that is like home,” then we can see that the concept of homecoming should matter a great deal to a Christ-following, five-minute family. Homecomings of all kinds should embrace at least these five elements:
- An invitation to those to be included – My mom and my stepdad were always very good at making sure they reiterated the invitation to family and friends to always feel welcome to come to their home. Jesus called out invitations to the disciples to follow Him. And, He gave a special invitation to those who are hurting in Matthew 11:28, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” He even gave a parable of the wedding invitation; invitations and responses to them matter.
- An expressed purpose for any homecoming – memorial, birth, wedding, birthday, medical, or just because. Let the invited family and friends know what the expectations are. It removes unnecessary pressure and helps everyone be on the same page.
- Organized fellowship time – Just like the Sunday message helps the church family during homecoming begin to focus their thoughts in a certain direction, events planned during family or biblical community homecomings help to get everyone thinking in the same direction while also providing more shared experiences.
- Free fellowship time – Free time allows conversations to develop on their own, and each person has the freedom to share their hearts’ needs. When we focus our hearts on the Lord and share the trials and triumphs God has seen us through, we bring Him glory and deepen our relationships with one another.
- Worship time – We always have the opportunity to honor the Lord in worship, whether it be in prayer, song, or testimonies. Build intentional worship time together during your homecoming. As Psalm 95:6 says, “Come, let’s worship and bow down, let’s kneel before the Lord our Maker.”
Please note that these elements pertain both to the home and family as well as our biblical communities and church family. But, let’s reflect for a moment on our true home – our citizenship is in heaven. While school homecomings may have a queen presiding, we have the ultimate King – the King of the universe.
Philippians 3:20 points out that “our citizenship is in heaven.” Do we live like we are ambassadors for Christ and represent His truth and His laws? Our freedoms are in Christ and we enjoy many blessings from Christ but do we actually live like we are His? If we reflect well the concept of homecoming, we can share the love of Christ by simply inviting others and living in community with one another. Thank you for joining us this morning, and know we are thankful for you, Five Minute Families. Be blessed!