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Archive for Saturday, October 1, 2011

Faith Forum: In honor of KU’s Homecoming week: What does the term ‘homecoming’ mean to you in a religious sense?

October 1, 2011

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The Rev. Mitch Todd, associate pastor, First United Methodist Church, 946 Vt.:

A true homecoming, in the spiritual sense, has nothing to do with a house, or a webpage, or an alma mater. It is returning to a place you may not even consciously remember, and finding your true self there.

Can you conjure up the greatest hug you’ve ever received? It is a little like that, only you are wrapped in God’s everlasting arms. Can you recall the most restful sleep you ever had? This is similar, but the deepest rest imaginable, watched over and protected by a loving parent. Do you have a memory of getting ready for the first day of school? Coming home to God restores you and then prepares you to return to the world, equipped and prepared. Some think of a spiritual homecoming as an eventual reuniting with God in Heaven, but I believe this kind of intimate reconnection can happen frequently throughout our lives.

Prayer, above all else, is what can bring us home. Not just the kind of prayer where we give God our list of concerns for the day. Not just the kind of prayer where we say words by rote. Prayer leads to homecoming when we allow ourselves to simply be in the presence of God. Homecoming, for a school, involves parties, sports and lots of activity. Homecoming, in prayer, involves something quite different. Try simply sitting still for two minutes. You’ll be surprised how long that is. With practice, you’ll come to embrace longer and longer periods of quiet, and your racing thoughts will begin to calm. You don’t have to do anything, or say anything.

This is a spiritual discipline largely lost on our Western culture, but of great value in our fast paced world. Simply enjoy being in the presence of God, your Source and Destination. Welcome home.

— Send e-mail to Mitch Todd at mitch@fumclawrence.org.

The Rev. Gary O’Flannagan, pastor, Cornerstone Southern Baptist Church, 802 W. 22nd St.:

“Coming home” in the religious sense is not so much about finding a church, that’s important, every Christian should seek to belong to a church, Jesus died for his church. Coming home is not determined by belonging to one specific denomination or reading a proscribed translation.

Coming home is really about being restored to the relationship with God that he created you for. In Luke 15, Jesus told the story about the prodigal son. The young man in the story took his inheritance and left his father to go and live life on his terms. His choices eventually led him to ruin his life and realizing his mistake he went home.

In the parable the father models how God the father interacts with us. He allows us to make poor choices, even when they are detrimental but he waits and watches for us to come home. Actually, God works through the circumstances of our lives, both the good and the bad to draw us back to himself.

Ultimately our greatest homecoming will take place in heaven, Jesus described this homecoming in John 14:1-3, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.”

Coming home, sounds kind of good doesn’t it? I realize there are different beliefs about Jesus Christ and heaven, but it’s my hope that you hear God’s voice through the words of the Bible, saying, you can come home, there is a way.

John 14:6 “Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

— Send e-mail to Gary O’Flannagan at gary2_1962@yahoo.com.

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