Coming Home for All Saints Day

Its All Saints Day and Tom and I are back home in Seattle . In spite of the cold drippy weather it is a delight to be here.  There is nothing quite like coming home to evoke warm fuzzy emotions of joy and satisfaction. The sighting of familiar faces at the airport, the enthusiastic greeting of our golden retriever Bonnie, and that first glimpse of house and garden all overwhelm us with contentment.   This is the place our hearts have longed for during our long drawn out journey.  This we know is where we belong.  It sights, sounds and smells are all part of something we feel incomplete when away from, no matter how enjoyable the experiences in other places might be.

No wonder we often view our entry into the kingdom of God as a joyous homecoming feast, an event that seems very appropriate to think about on this All Saints’ Day.  Our coming home to God’s kingdom is the ultimate homecoming, what Richard Foster describes as a “coming home to the heart of God.” It is a fulfillment of the deepest longings of our souls, that sometimes heart wrenching craving for a closer and more intimate relationship with God which makes everything else fade into insignificance.  This is the place where our spirits truly belong.

Coming home to the kingdom of God is about more than reaching a destination however.  It is indeed an incredible welcoming feast when we sit down at table with all those who have gone before us, not just our loved ones and our ancestors, not even just the saints of old, but also those that God has brought in from the highways and byways – the poor, the disabled and the marginalized.

Chris Lawrence, one of the people we were with in England this last week once held a banquet feast in his neighbourhood at which the police officers and the city council members served table for the homeless, the drug addicts and the welfare single parent families.  I suspect that this is something of what the kingdom banquet feast will look like and heading those that wait at table will be Jesus, coming to all of us as a servant, filling our plates with the choicest of food and our glasses with the finest of wines.  What an incredible homecoming that will be – something that all of us should indeed long for in the depths of our being.

So what images come  to mind when you think of homecoming?  And in particular what comes to mind when you think of the homecoming banquet of God?

Here is one of my favourite All Saints scriptures to help you reflect.  (Hebrews 11:32 – 12:2)

32 And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson and Jephthah, about David and Samuel and the prophets, 33 who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, 34quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies. 35 Women received back their dead, raised to life again. There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection. 36 Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. 37 They were put to death by stoning;[a] they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated— 38 the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, living in caves and in holes in the ground.

39 These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, 40 since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.

Hebrews 12

1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

 

 

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Waiting for the Homecoming of God

This evening Tom and I will hold hold our annual Advent party focused not on the birth of Christ two thousand years ago but on that wonderful future coming when Christ will return and we will all come home to the new world that God is creating.

Tom has put together a short video with images of coming home from various films – the wonderful introductory soliloquy from Patch Adams – All the world’s people are coming home, followed by that poignant scene from ET when ET points to the sky and says HOME then Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz reminding us that there is no place like home and then finally the beautiful ending sequence from Antwon Fischer about coming home.

I have also written a litany for the evening about coming home which I thought you might all appreciate: We will end the evening with a feast of international finger food.

A Homecoming Litany – Christine Sine

The advent of our Lord is near and we long for his coming

We long for new light to shine where there has been darkness.

The advent of our Lord is near and we long for him to call us home

We long for new hope to reign where there has been death and despair.

The advent of our Lord is near and we long for him to appear

We wait on tiptoe attentive to all the signs of his coming

(Pause for lighting of the Advent candles)

God we have caught a glimpse of your Messiah healed world

And we long for its coming

We long for the place where all beauty comes from

The place where all life is renewed

God we live in anticipation of Messiah’s birth and the world’s rebirth

And we long for its coming

God we long to come home to your world of wholeness and peace

Home to your eternal world where love reigns over all

Isaiah 2: 1-4

This is a vision that Isaiah son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem:

2 In the last days, the mountain of the Lord’s house will be the highest of all—
the most important place on earth.
It will be raised above the other hills and people from all over the world will stream there to worship.
3 People from many nations will come and say,
“Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord to the house of Jacob’s God.
There he will teach us his ways, and we will walk in his paths.”
For the Lord’s teaching will go out from Zion; his word will go out from Jerusalem.
4 The Lord will mediate between nations and will settle international disputes.
They will hammer their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks.
Nation will no longer fight against nation, nor train for war anymore.

God we long for your coming when you will welcome us home

Isaiah 25: 6-9

On this mountain the LORD Almighty will prepare
a feast of rich food for all peoples,
a banquet of aged wine— the best of meats and the finest of wines.

7 On this mountain he will destroy
the shroud that enfolds all peoples, the sheet that covers all nations;

8 he will swallow up death forever.
The Sovereign LORD will wipe away the tears from all faces;
he will remove the disgrace of his people from all the earth.
The LORD has spoken.

9 In that day they will say,
“Surely this is our God; we trusted in him, and he saved us.
This is the LORD, we trusted in him; let us rejoice and be glad in his salvation.”

God we long for your coming when you will welcome us home

Our Father who art in heaven hallowed be thy name.  Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.  Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.  Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil, for thine is the kingdom the power and the glory, for ever and ever.  Amen.

Hold your head high, rejoice in anticipation

Christ is coming calling us home

Home to the heart of God

Home to God’s living presence

Home to God’s banquet feast

Hold your head high, your redemption draws close

Christ is coming calling us home

He comes to redeem and renew

All that is broken will be made whole

All that is dislocated will be set right

Hold your head high, carry forward God’s healing

Christ is coming calling us home

To a world where truth and justice triumph

To a place where abundance flourishes

To a community where generosity flows

Hold your head high, Christ is coming calling us home

Calling to all of us, to all that will trust in his name

Christ is coming, calling us home

Into God’s eternal world where love reigns over all

AMEN