(pic of the high school marching band last night)
Last night was Homecoming which is an evening of welcoming home alumni that high schools across the nation celebrate each autumn, a slice of Americana for sure. Our homecoming included a tailgate party, a marching band in full regalia, dance team, homecoming court with crowned king and queen, a school fundraiser presentation to the board, cheerleaders, and last, but not least the football team, giving it their best to make the night a winning, joyful celebration. How did it go? Well, we kicked butt in football; the dance team hung together well; the check amount was a new record ($275,000…yep, we’re in a wealthy district), the homecoming court was dressed in their finest (except for the football players, they were in football uniforms…but, it should be noted, they were very nice football uniforms:-); the cheerleaders were wonderfully synched; the tailgate party was quite festive (although I wish they wouldn’t have run out of ketchup); and the marching band that Emily (our daughter) played piccolo in, looked spiffy, sounded terrific and nailed their formations. I’m not an alumnus of this school, but if I were, I would have absolutely loved last night, even the weather was amazing.
I’ve noticed in my life that when things get tough, when life slams me to the ground, I find myself driving through my own small hometown, the town I grew up in (which is just a few towns away). I create my own homecoming. There is comfort in familiar places, familiar faces…people and places that have been embedded in my mind since childhood, people and places that seem timeless. People know you in small towns and you know them…when they die, their faces linger in the countenances of their children, children who often settle as adults into that same community. The connection continues because you share so much in common, even long after you’ve moved away…
My stepfather (who is in the hospital due to mental instability), is moving toward his own homecoming. In the past day or two we are finding that he is coming back to us. Our prayers are being answered, friends!! It is requiring a lot of psychic effort on his part to rise from the chaos, but he is aware of it and is fighting hard to come back. Last night he asked his sister if there were any family events that he had to prepare for…he’s looking for homecoming gatherings to mentally collect himself for. He’s looking for reasons to come back, things that give him something to look forward to, familiar people and places that feel safe….A couple of days ago he said something about himself in the third person, showing us that, at times, he can see objectively, can step back from his own mental storm and realize it really isn’t him…that he is other than that storm.
Biblically, there is a familiar homecoming story, The Prodigal Son. The story goes something like this (can be found in Luke 15). A son asks his father for his inheritance. The father gives it to him and the son takes it and runs…spends it on loose living…he sullies his soul, loses touch with home and squanders every last penny and finds himself homeless and destitute. Down and out, not a friend in sight, he comes “to his senses” (vs.17). The son decides to go home and ask to be hired as a servant; for that life would be better than what he is living now. Just within sight of home the father spots the son and runs to him, throws “his arms around him” and kisses him. The son tries to apologize and notes he isn’t worthy to be called his son. The father will hear none of it and throws him quite the party. The father rejoices and tells everyone “Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.” (vs. 24)
I’m finding that if we turn, even just a little bit toward Home, He comes running to meet us.
If you haven’t already, I invite you to come Home, my friend…the Homecoming is sweet, oh so sweet…