“You Can’t Go Back Home Again” July 8, 2018

“You Can’t Go Back Home Again”

2 Samuel 5:1-5,9-10 or

Ezekiel 2:1-7

2 Corinthians 12:2-10

Mark 6:1-13


First of all, let me say it is good to be back – back home – and I have to confess that nothing gives you new perspective on the place you now call home more than by going back to a place that you used to call home, only to find out that it is no more. Different time, different place. Now right off the bat, I have to give Mark credit for writing about Jesus’ homecoming the way it was. I mean, if we are to totally believe in the ultimate powers of Christ, how are we to understand the statement, “And he could do no mighty work there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and healed them;” a statement which was followed by, “and he marveled at their unbelief.” And so today I’d like to talk about homecomings. They’re complicated, they’re confusing, and they rarely turn out to be a heartwarming as we had hoped.

I’d like to start this conversation by reading you a letter, but first you will need a little background to get the full understanding of why it is that I say you can’t go back home again. Last week I was in south western So. Dakota where Margie was born and raised. Her two sisters also showed up and besides celebrating the fourth together, which was a family tradition, they had also committed to sorting through the last of their mother’s things that were locked in a storage unit. When I walked in the house I was surrounded by boxes and boxes of paper. There were magazines, old sheet music for band and piano and who knows what else, and then there were letters. I swear her mother kept every letter and note that had ever been written to her and here they all were. It was a nightmare. There was the obvious tension over who gets to keep what and all that, but the revelation that made me chuckle was learning that grandma Grace, who everyone simply adored, had a bit of a mean streak. Now, I know this is private family stuff but I did get their permission to speak on this today.

So OK, 3 things: (1) all the grandkids loved grandma Grace. She was quirky, she spoke her mind, and she let you do whatever you wanted.  (2) Grandma Grace was a bit on the bossy side, especially to her own children, and (3) Mary Two Eagle was a local native American woman who made her living by dressing in traditional beads and buckskins and posing for pictures with the tourist crowd that showed up by the thousands in Custer, S Dakota every summer. So there’s the set up. Grandma Grace is writing her daughter to encourage her and her family to spend Christmas with them.

”Dear Caroline

You also turned us down for Thanksgiving. How come? David have BO?

You know that Christmas day doesn’t have an afternoon. Better come in the morning and go home for the afternoon. I’ll bet the girls didn’t vote to stay home; just mother.

The Hespens go home at 4 to do chores. Fritz always wants to get home before late. Papa and I will have eaten so much that we’ll be sort of torpid. Better send up the family for dinner and you can come later. We will eat at twelve. Then while we are still at the table, so we can see folks unwrap their gifts, we’ll give them out 2 or 3 at a time. (same sentence) I suppose when that is over and the dishes washed, folks will go home.

Did you see Patty Lintz’ picture in the paper as one of the concert soloists? She was my devoted slave. Perhaps it is just as well that you aren’t coming. I can’t find a gift for you or the girls. I will though.

I’m decorating. Remember when I had the cards on the door and how Cindy wrecked them? Better come. You’ll always wish you had.”

And then, written in parenthesis she wrote  (No gloom dept.) followed by:

“Mary Two Eagles has 4 goats. ~ Mother.”

I have to say, the things that struck me the most, besides the lecturing of the letter, was how these 3 sisters didn’t really want to hear this at first. They had an idea in their mind of this fun grandma and now they were seeing things differently. It was hilarious.

And on the Sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astonished, saying, “Where did this man get these things? What is the wisdom given to him? How are such mighty works done by his hands? Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him. And Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor, except in his hometown and among his relatives and in his own household.”

            You know, we are a forgiving bunch when it comes to family. And the same goes, to some extent, for our extended families, our communities, our church. So where do we get the courage to seek to understand instead of just walking away? We get it from love. Because no matter how annoying or quirky or bull headed the folks in our lives may be, we still love them. And so we go on trying to be the example of Christ in this world, even if that drives them up the wall. We carry the good news of the gospel to whoever and wherever we go, and if we are rejected for it, we don’t take it personal. We simply shake the dirt off our shoes and move on. Like Ezekiel, we don’t flinch at speaking the good news to them, whether they hear or refuse to hear, for they are a rebellious house. But we can’t go back home again. It has changed, we have changed. Maybe instead we can get busy and work at getting back to the Lord’s house and the Kingdom of God? I have a feeling that would be a homecoming that would never disappoint.

Amen & shalom

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