It’s that time of year. School is in full swing; summer is a memory; and fall is whispering that cooler nights are on their way; and along with fall comes football and homecomings. Homecomings are a time for people to return home to memories of who they once were and the communities they enjoyed. This summer at camp we focused on a story in scripture that Jesus told about a homecoming.
I’m sure you are familiar with it. It was the story of a father and his two sons and the homecoming of one of those sons. The younger son becomes restless and decides to leave. James K. A. Smith references this story that Jesus told in his book, On the Road with Saint Augustine. He describes the itch to leave in the human heart and all the million reasons we have for leaving: “We leave because we long for something
else, something more. We leave to look for some piece of us that’s missing.
Or we hit the road to leave ourselves behind and refashion who we are. We hit the road in the hope of finding what we’re looking for - or at least sufficiently distracting ourselves from the hungry and haunting absences that propelled our departure in the first place.”
…And so the younger son leaves.
Sometimes we leave in ways other than a physical departure. This is the case for the older brother. He stays with the father as the dutiful son, but has failed to truly make his home with him. When he discovers the celebration for the returned brother, he lingers on the outside. He’s not present to his father’s joy and delight. In his heart, he too has left. Sometimes we do all the right things but for all the wrong reasons with hearts full of jealousy, bitterness, and self-righteousness.
The highlight of the story though is not about leaving. It’s about coming home. Homecoming! That’s God’s invitation to us. Jesus emphasizes this aspect of the story. He emphasizes the father’s willingness to go out of his way to reach out to both of his sons. Neither son can save themselves. The younger has thrown away his inheritance and identity. The older is crippled with jealousy and bitterness. Only the father can be the source that resurrects them both to life. Jesus tells us that the father willingly humbles himself by picking up his robes and running and flinging himself at the feet of his sons to beg them to come into the house, to come home to him. Jesus is essentially saying, “This is what God is like, ‘While he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.’”
Luke 15:20 We find our identities, our home, our rest in Him because in fact He runs to meet us. And it is through Jesus that we experience the Father’s heart. “Jesus is the shout of God, the way God runs to meet us.” He is the way we find our way home.
This is the core of our ministry at King’s Camp. We provide space and time for children and adults alike in which through the ministry of the Holy Spirit they can encounter Jesus to find their way home to the Father. May you have a blessed fall, and as you attend football games and homecoming events may you be reminded of the love of a Father who runs out to meet you to bring you home to Himself and to your true identity as His beloved son or daughter.