A Reminder of What Homecoming is Really About


Michael Hardies

Theology Teacher

HOMECOMING WEEK. An exciting time…changing up the ordinary routine…an opportunity to dress a little different...have some friendly competition amongst the classes. It is also a chance to see former students and alumni who will be here as part of the homecoming festivities.

Dictionary.com defines it as - a return to one's home; arrival at home. An annual event held by a college, university, or high school for visiting alumni.

It is all about coming home. There is something great about coming home. There is a comfort, a peace, a joy that is found in going home. For many people that joy includes getting the chance to see loved ones and friends.

When I hear the word homecoming, I am inundated with images from Facebook and other social media outlets of people returning home from active service in the military.

I could watch those videos all day long…just to see the excitement. The pure joy in the family member’s eyes to have that loved one home again…safe and sound. Those family members dropped everything and ran as fast as they could to throw their arms around their loved one...and once they got them in their arms...they want to hold on as tight as they can, to not let them go again.

In thinking about this visual, I am reminded of the story that we heard about last week. The story of the prodigal son. Luke 15:

The Parable of the Lost Son

11 Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. 12 The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.

13 “Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. 14 After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. 16 He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.

17 “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18 I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ 20 So he got up and went to his father.

“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.

21 “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’

22 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. 24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate

If you notice, the Father, was waiting …from the moment that that son left home, he was watching with eager anticipation, and hoping that his son would one day come home…and when he finally saw him out in the distance, he didn’t want to wait for him to get there…he ran out to that son, as fast as he could, threw arms around him, kissed him and held onto him with all he had. The son had come home…there was reason to celebrate.

There are countless songs that talk about coming home – in almost every genre you can find that theme.

Simon and Garfunkel – Homeward Bound

Dierks Bentley – Home

Lynyrd Skynyrd – Sweet Home Alabama

John Denver – Take Me Home Country Roads

Ozzy Ozbourne – Mama I'm Coming Home

The idea of going home is a popular one….it focuses on the joy and happiness that being home brings.

Our school theme this year is all about going home too. The reason we need to fix our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith is because we need to keep our eyes on the prize. That prize which Jesus himself won for us through His death on the cross and gave to us through our Baptism. We need keep ourselves from being distracted by anything or anybody that would prevent us from getting to our heavenly home.

In the Christmas movie HOME ALONE, Kevin McAllister has been left alone by his family and his parents don’t realize it until they are all the way to Paris. His mother in the movie, in an attempt to get back to her son, trades everything she has…money, earrings to get there. She also travels to several cities, by plane, truck, etc. just to be reunited with that boy. At one point, she even offers to sell her soul to pay for her way home…..Nothing was going to stop her from getting to him. When she finally got back home to him, they ran to each other…through arms around each other and celebrated.

We too need to have that same mentality when it comes to our faith walk. In our Baptism, we were brought into God’s family. And as a part of that family, there is an eternal home waiting for us in heaven. We have a spot reserved, just for us. So we need to get rid of any distractions or anything that would prevent us from reaching that goal.

In the early 1800’s there was a man by the name of Thomas Taylor, who followed in his father’s footsteps in becoming a minister. But his time in that role was cut short due to health complications, which eventually led to his death at the age of only 28. And as sad as it is, that his life was cut so short, during his health struggles, he wrote a song which can be found in the Lutheran worship hymnal. The song is entitled, I am but a stranger here.

1 I'm but a stranger here, Heaven is my home; Earth is a desert drear; Heaven is my home: Danger and sorrow stand Round me on every hand; Heaven is my fatherland, Heaven is my home.

2 What though the tempest rage, Heaven is my home; Short is my pilgrimage, Heaven is my home: And time's wild wintry blast Soon shall be overpast; I shall reach home at last, Heaven is my home.

3 There at my Savior's side, Heaven is my home; I shall be glorified, Heaven is my home. There are the good and blest, Those I love most and best; And there I too shall rest, Heaven is my home.

4 Therefore I murmur not, Heaven is my home; Whate'er my earthly lot, Heaven is my home: And I shall surely stand There at my Lord's right hand: Heaven is my fatherland, Heaven is my home.

Thomas Taylor new what the prize was. He knew what was waiting for him. It is my prayer that we all keep that same kind of focus. That we would be energized in our quest for reaching our goal of eternal life.

And as we celebrate this homecoming week, I pray it will be joyful. That fun will be had by all. But more importantly, I pray that each of us will experience the greatest Homecoming…when our Lord and Savior runs out to meet us and throw His arms around us when we go home to heaven.

Michael Hardies