Whoever it was that coined the phrase “You can’t go home again” was wrong. Wrong. You can, and it can be a beautiful experience. True, once you move away from home, away from friends and family, things change. Life goes on, and people continue to live their lives without you in it. Kids grow up (far too quickly), pregnancies and births happen, illnesses and deaths occur. And yet, if you are very blessed, you can return to those same family and friends that you left and you can be welcomed and loved as though you’d never gone away, greeted with open arms and joyful tears.

We were just back home to Minnesota for a visit at the beginning of the month. We were so very lucky to get a chance to gather with my husband’s family and celebrate his grandmother’s 100th birthday, see most of my immediate family, and gather with friends for a wedding. It was a week filled with laughter, joy, and abundant hospitality towards my family.  We spent part of the week staying with family, and then a few nights at a friend’s home. In both places, it felt like coming home….the invitation to stay and just…..be…..was so wonderful.  There is a special gift that some people have of making others feel warm and welcome in their presence and we experienced that during our travels. The gift of hospitality is so much more than being good at entertaining. It is this very special and unique way of making someone feel loved and welcome, a way of offering yourself to the other with a joyful servant heart, and allowing the guest to be relaxed and unguarded in your home.  We experienced that over our travels and were blessed by it. (And thank you again to my mother in law, and to our sweet friends, the Marble family, for allowing our crazy family to stay in your homes.)

We also experience this “homecoming” at our home church in Mankato. The hugs, the joyful greetings, the surprise on peoples faces as it registered that we were there…that stirred something within my soul. This is what church should be. Loving and caring for one another as family does, even after a few years of separation. Having true hospitality and welcoming the other in the name of Christ.  And it made me ache with missing this place of hope and joy.  Hilltop United Methodist Church, you have a very special place in my heart. You have been a place of healing for me, a place where I really developed a relationship with my Heavenly Father, and a place of friendship and family. No matter where we go on this journey we are on, I feel as though I part of my heart will always be with this church where people truly are the CHURCH.

I know that in our life we will be moving around. More than likely, a lot. Every so many years, we will move to a new charge, settle into a new town, new home, new schools. But I also know that we can go “home” again, that we can find ourselves with those who love and care for us, and find “home” amongst those who have supported us in our journey, those who have been a part of our lives for so many years. That is what a homecoming is really about…finding yourself at home among family and friends. It is never about the place, but always about the people.


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