When I used to sit with families who were not members of the church to prepare funeral services for love ones, I always asked about post-funeral religious commitments. While I think that most families took my question seriously, I did not see them returning after the funeral service. Perhaps in their minds faith is a private matter. Despite my best efforts, I did not seem to be able to convince them of the advantage of belonging to a community of faith.
Matthew’s Gospel reminds us that there are tremendous spiritual benefits to Christians getting together. Jesus tells us that when the church gathers it not only has the power to forgive sins but also the pledge that God will answer its prayer. Moreover, the gathered church is assured of Christ’s presence. “For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.” (Matt. 18:20). As we listen to Jesus, we discover the truth that the Christian journey is not a solitary spiritual affair but involves us in the real challenge of being a community. Christianity has community and belonging at its core.
Homecoming celebrates this truth. It is a time for giving God thanks for the wonderful privilege of having St. Leonard’s to call our spiritual home and for the fellowship we share as participants in a common spiritual journey. We remember today the many faithful parishioners who have found God here and have gone to their eternal rest and pray that this year’s Homecoming lead us to an even deeper commitment to the challenge of being God’s people in this time and place.
A Warm Homecoming to All!