Today my church back at home, Pleasant Hill Baptist, will celebrate their annual "Homecoming" day.

And for the first time in my entire life, I will not be attending; I won't be "coming home."

If you're unfamiliar with the tradition of homecoming, let me explain. Homecoming is celebrated mostly by Southern American churches. It's held annually normally in the summer or fall. The idea behind the day is that people who used to go to the church but do not any more - mostly because they moved away - are invited to come to back and enjoy a day of fellowship at their old "home" church. Thus, the name "Homecoming." This tradition is celebrated by inviting previous preachers to come and preach the sermon that morning. The worship service is normally followed by a potluck meal where everyone gets to visit and catch up with friends and family. It really is a fun day.

Right now the word homecoming has three different meanings for me.

The first, I just explained. I'm sad I'm going to miss this day. There are a lot of people I will miss seeing. The food is good (just being honest here). It's a chance to celebrate where we've come from as a church. Like I said, it's fun, and it's special. Today I may not physically be in Pleasant Hill, but my heart is there.

The second meaning of homecoming is literally that: when I go home. It's been nine months since I left home, and I have thoroughly enjoyed my time in France. But as that time winds down, my heart looks to home. To the people and the places that, yes, I miss. I'm looking forward to being in the same time zone and being able to talk face-to-face with family and friends.

There's a third meaning for homecoming for me. It's the day I go home to Jesus. My life, it might span another sixty or seventy years - maybe more, maybe less. Whenever it does come to an end, that's when I get to go to my forever home. We call it heaven. But when I think about it, I don't really think about a place. My forever home is a person: Jesus.

Romans 6:23 says,
"For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."
I won't be attending my church's homecoming today; if I look at my future plans, it might be a while before I do again. I still have about three months before I'll be going home to South Carolina; and that's not going to be permanent. Those homecomings last for just a little while. That can be a little sad to think about.

Eternal life in Christ Jesus. That's a forever homecoming. And it's one my heart is looking forward to whenever the time may come.


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