Remember that movie about the animals who amazingly found their way home after thinking they had been abandoned by their owners? They survive the dangerous mountain terrain, ferocious wildlife, and several other dangers but made it home! It’s been made and remade and recently I confirmed that the movies were based on actual events.
The instinct to return home is so powerful. There is something about the security, love, and belonging of home that calls us back, even through dangers and troubles.
Church leaders have been wringing their hands with worry at church buildings that have gone from maximum capacity to 50%, and that’s a generous estimate. We know many have been watching from afar online, but we’re concerned. Will those unable to attend in-person find their way back home, whenever that will be?
I believe they will. There’s something about home that calls us back. The faces, the voices, the communion, the passing of the peace – these are calling out to our spiritual instincts leading us back to our spiritual home. I long for that day.
But we also know that whenever people wander there will inevitable be those who forget. There will be those who get lost. There will be some who have trouble remembering the comfort and peace and security that church should be and, in most cases, is.
Pandemic or not, people do tend to wander. And even before these days of masks and quarantines, the wandering had begun.
Jesus told a story about a young man who wandered. The man prematurely took his father’s inheritance and went to a far country where he thought he could find something better than home. And for a while, he thought he did. He lived the life he dreamed of, but before long he woke up and realized it was really a nightmare. His instincts kicked in and he remembered home. What he thought was oppressive was really liberating. What he thought was restrictive was really freeing. In his wanderings he came to know that home was the place he was looking for, and he decided to come back. He really didn’t know if he would be received back, but, to his surprise, his return was not only accepted but celebrated. The father had been waiting for him all along.
Home won the day.
Jesus told that story to remind us all that no wanderer has wandered too far. He told that story to remind us that home is always calling us back. Jesus told that story to remind us to follow our spiritual instincts and come back to the place where security, love, and belonging is found.
Maybe you have wandered. Maybe you’ve gotten lost. Maybe you’ve have felt abandoned. Maybe you’ve been lured away by what you thought would be better. No matter the reason, there is a path back home. And, like the wandering son in Jesus’s story, your return will be celebrated.
Home is calling you back.