The celebration was the highlight of the church year, but it took a great deal of preparation. In the lower regions of South Carolina, church homecomings are immaculate celebrations.
Normally held in the fall of the year, they are attended by current members, previous members, family members, previous pastors, and anyone wanting a free meal. Barbeque is often the meal of choice. Churches prepare pounds of meat and hash. Plans are made months in advance. Letters are mailed to former members and pastors. Announcements are placed in local newspapers and on local radio stations. Men stay up all night cooking.
On the day of, churches are packed with worshipers. Some churches host gospel groups to top off the day. After services, congregants gather for the feast, enjoying the company of those they haven’t seen since the previous year’s celebration.
As wonderful as homecomings here are, they’ll never match the ultimate homecoming that will occur when Christ returns. Some will be alive to witness it, while those who have died in Christ will actually return with him. Christ came the first time to pay humanity’s sin debt, but his second coming will put an end to all sin and corruption and usher his followers into a perfect eternity.
Homecomings took months of preparation, and we always knew the date. Jesus says no one except the Father knows the date of the final homecoming. Readying myself for the end time homecoming requires only one thing: trusting Christ as my Savior. I serve him and others as a result of that decision, but the decision—not the actions, is what prepares me.
When I’ve done this—whether he comes while I’m alive or for me at death, I can wipe the sweat of my labor from my brow and hear him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into the joys of your Lord.”
How are you preparing for the Homecoming?
Prayer: Father, we look forward to the eternal homecoming with You and all believers.