Monday, June 29th. Mark 6:1

He left that place and came to his hometown, and his disciples followed him.” Mark 6:1

Thus begins the gospel reading assigned to this weekend, a reading which will be heard in every congregation that follows the revised common lectionary to order its public hearing of scripture.

Ironically, many faithful church members won’t be hearing these words in their home congregations because they, like Jesus in the text, will be traveling home. Or traveling to exotic places like campgrounds, Disneyland, Philadelphia or Fargo. But many will indeed be traveling to their hometowns over this upcoming holiday weekend.

Someone who was both insightful and witty once wrote: “Home is where, when you go there, they have to take you in.” Interestingly, there seems to be great disagreement about who actually wrote that line, Google suggests Thomas Wolfe or Robert Frost; I was under the impression it was T.S. Eliot. Perhaps lots of people arrived at the same sentiment because they have shared the same experience.

There really is no place like home.

But what is home? And what is a hometown? In my case, my family moved to Wahpeton, North Dakota, the year before I began kindergarten and I lived there, with a brief 9 month sojourn in Fargo, until I graduated from high school. My mother moved away soon after so I haven’t had a “home” in my hometown since I was 18. But, even though I wasn’t born there, and even though its only impact on my adult life has been memories and somewhat annual one night stand visits to see the place and a few people, it is where I’m from.

I don’t have any relatives there anymore, haven’t had relatives there for years now. But it will ever remain my hometown.

The truth is, many people are blessed with the memories of a hometown, perhaps complete with a family home still in the family. But most people don’t have either and certainly most people don’t have both. “Hometown” in fact is probably not about the place or even the people, it is instead a kind of psychic foundation, a touchstone. A way of both remembering and charting movement. It might be where we are “from” but it is also then a testament to who we have become along the way.

Jesus’ hometown wasn’t ready to discover who he had become.

Here is an aside: One of the most painful of the prices paid by the families of men and women serving in the armed forces is the sacrifice of a “home town” for their children. It isn’t unusual to hear an adult raised in a military family say they attended 12 or more different schools, even in different countries, before graduating from the last one. When you celebrate Independence Day this weekend, please be mindful not only of the military sacrifices of those who have served our country in securing our freedoms but also of the emotional sacrifices necessarily visited upon their families.

Let us pray: Dear Lord, protect those who travel this upcoming weekend, especially those who will be heading home to family, to memories, to the old places that still live within them. Protect those who are far from home and bring healing to those still seeking to find their place in the world. In Jesus’ name. Amen.


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