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I grew up in a baptist church, and I can remember having revivals, not every year, but every couple of years. These revivals were not times for people to come back to the church and catch up with each other, but a time for the church to reignite their faith and mission to the gospel. When I went to Furman, it became pretty clear pretty quickly that not all churches celebrated revivals in the summer. What also became clear was there were other baptist churches that celebrated something called Homecoming.

Having attended two small schools, Homecoming was a big deal, but only if you knew your friends were coming. If your friends weren’t coming, then there was really no point in making the trek. But my perception of Homecoming wasn’t really what Homecoming was in these smaller baptist churches. No, Homecoming was something you made the trek back to your home church for every year. It wasn’t something you missed because it was a time when people who had been a member of the church and who still were members of the church got gathered over good food and caught up.

It’s something I love about pastoring a small church. We have a similar tradition in our anniversary dinner every year. Because of our size, we literally have to reorganize most of our church in order to celebrate our birthday, but the time we spend getting the church ready and getting the food ready all makes it worthwhile as we gather around interconnected tables to eat and catch up.

These traditions that many of us remember from our baptist roots are often disregarded in moderate and progressive baptist congregations. Mentioning the word “revival” or “altar call” or “invitation time” would bring together almost every committee in most of moderate and progressive congregations pretty quickly. I understand the hesitation because so many of us have hurt and pain associated with these times, and yet so many of us would mark these times as one of our first encounters with the gospel. I know that’s true for me.

I just wonder if in our efforts to be open-minded and affirming if at times if we miss opportunities to invite others to be a part of God’s amazing work in the world. To me God is not a God of rationale exposition, but a God of movement and miracles. Would people encounter that aspect of God in our congregations?

I know they would at a Willie Nelson concert:


On the Road Again, Again

After I wrote the post yesterday, I got in my car after class to make the drive home. The first song that came on was Willie’s Nelson’s “On the Road Again.” There was a moment where I just laughed, I had to because the moment we speak what we are thinking there are bound to be moments like these that happen.

The fascinating thing is that if we don’t share our thoughts and our experiences with others, then there’s no one to write a follow up post to, to say, “Kinda crazy, huh?” I think all of us desire to know that we are not alone in this world. Whether that comes in the form of a four-legged creature or whether that comes in the affirmation from friends that what we wrote, what we said, what we did meant something. The search to make our time on this earth into something meaningful is overwhelming at times, but when we can share our experiences with each other, but even more so, those little peeks we get into a world and a being far greater than us, then we are truly offering a bigger picture.

Whether you believe my hearing Willie Nelson’s song again is a testament that the divine is in the world or a series of choices about when people travel and would enjoy hearing a song about traveling, I’m glad I shared because if I hadn’t, these words would only be for me.