Independence Day traditions draw us back to our hometowns. We look forward to being with relatives and friends, so we brave the crowded highways and head home.
How do you feel about going home? People will come home to Minot this summer who haven't been back since before the floods. Some will discover that their childhood home is completely gone. Others will see their beloved house gutted and sanitized, waiting to be rebuilt. Still others will return to a "better than new" house, with new windows, siding, freshly painted walls and grass growing bravely again. But there may be a strange hollow feeling, even though it's lovely. It's not the house they remembered. Minot is a different, more crowded place than they remembered. It's hard to go home sometimes.
It can be even harder to go home, though, because our hometown is where people knew us when we were young. They remember the crazy things we did. We might run into our 8th grade teacher. She probably still remembers the time we made such sarcastic remarks we were sent to the principal's office to cool down. We might meet the classmate we had such a crush on. We cringe as we remember how we tried to impress.
Rev. Mary Johnson
Tomorrow at All Saints' we will read about Jesus returning to his hometown. It wasn't easy for him, either. The people of Nazareth knew his reputation throughout Galilee. They were excited to have him preaching in their synagogue. His words made sense: they were wise. He'd been healing the sick, calming storms, and calming unquiet minds, even raising the dead. What would he do in Nazareth?
But they also knew Jesus when he was a youngster. They knew his family. Joseph's family weren't wealthy landowners. They worked with their hands. They were poor: probably they had lost their family's land, gone into debt, in earlier generations.
Jesus quoted the saying, "Prophets don't lack for honor, except in their own hometown" (Mark 6:4). Prophets, the people who speak on behalf of God, often had messages that were hard to hear. But for people who seek to follow Jesus, the hardest place of all to be the person God calls you to be is where people think they already know you, know what you have to say-and aren't likely to be impressed. Even Jesus had a hard time in Nazareth.
Be gentle to yourself if you return to your hometown this summer. Remember that home has changed since you left; remember that people might not know how you have changed. Remember that the old "tapes" will play in your head, and it may be challenging to be kind and to act maturely. Take some deep breaths. Say a prayer. Remember God loves you, loves the folks in your hometown, knows everybody's story, forgives, restores, renews.
The Rev. Mary Johnson is on a 24-month assignment serving All Saints' Episcopal Church as Missioner and Coordinator of Volunteers for long-term recovery under a grant from Episcopal Relief and Development.