In the next week, millions of Americans will travel someplace to celebrate Thanksgiving. It doesn’t matter how long they have lived away from that particular place, for most of them, they are going home. Home is magical to us, even if the reality of it wasn’t so great when we lived there. The Prodigal Family is about returning home – all ET wanted was to get home – the ultimate goal in baseball is to go home. Home is where the heart is. Home, Billy Joel wrote, is just another word for you. There’s something about being home that brings us comfort. And being homeless/un-homed is among the worst things that can happen to us.

And while the great, melancholy song “I’ll be home for Christmas” evokes deep longing and sadness, it has always been Dorothy in “The Wizard of Oz” that reminded me of being home for Thanksgiving. We live in a time when you can watch Christmas Hallmark movies (none of which actually have to do with Christmas, by the way) any time of the year; we can call up anything we want to watch whenever we want. As a kid, the Wizard of Oz was shown right before Thanksgiving; usually the night before. I remember sitting there every year with my family wondering what the heck this all had to do with the holiday. I felt the same way about the Nutcracker at Christmas, but that is another rant for another time.

It took me a long time to figure it out, but I think I finally got it; Dorothy follows a path to get as far away from black and white Kansas as she can, only to realize that there’s no place like home. It didn’t take much; just a couple clicks of her heels and she was there. Her home wasn’t perfect, but it was where the people she loved were. That’s what made it home. She, like us, could always go home. When I think about what makes my home real, it is the people I love; my family and friends – my church – my dogs. It isn’t just the house we have lived in for over 20 years, although we do love that too. Home is being with the people we love, and if they are gone, with our memories of them. 

I hope you get to be home to be with the people you love, and if your home wasn’t or isn’t a safe place, I hope you find a new home where you can make new memories. Home isn’t static, and it isn’t about living in the past. Home is where you and I are welcome with no strings attached. Kind of like how the church should be. And you are welcome there too. If you are coming home to Berks County, I hope to see you here. If not, I hope you get to be with loved ones who make wherever you are home.

Prayer – Our home, God of welcome, is with You and each other. May we each be inspired to create homes filled with forgiveness and love. Amen.

Today’s art is “Surrender Dorothy” by Charlene Zatloukal.