Saturday, October 11, 2014


I have been thinking about the theme of accompaniment for a few weeks now - inspired by journey stories of the Old Testament and God's accompaniment on those journeys, and my own reflections on reaching the milestone of living a year in a new place and God's accompaniment in transition.

Accompaniment is a word that has musical connotations for me. One who provides musical accompaniment has a complex role, being present in the background, sometimes supporting or enhancing, sometimes leading, and sometimes building a bridge from one section to another. If you have been to a silent movie where the piano player sets the tone of the scene through the musical score, or listened to a soloist sing a song with significant changes in tempo or key, supported through them by the instrumental accompaniment, you can recognize the work and artistry of accompaniment.

Many times the role of accompanist is deemed subordinate to the role of soloist. After all, at the end of the song, it's the soloist who takes the bow. The most gracious stars will acknowledge their accompanist but the applause is still mostly for the star - isn't he or she great for acknowledging the piano player or the chorus?

As you read the epic stories of the Old Testament, you can see God's accompaniment supporting, leading and building bridges for the main characters: going with Adam and Eve as they are banished from the garden, leading Joseph to plan and prepare for a time of famine and allowing Moses to part the waters and create a bridge of dry land to the wilderness on the way to freedom.

God has been the accompanist to my personal "Life Song" as well - supporting, leading, and providing the bridge from one section to another. And what a great accompanist: supporting me with food, shelter, relationships, work and meaning - the essentials of life. God continues to be the heartbeat that keeps me moving, leading me forward when I would linger too long or holding me back when I would rush forward too soon. God has bridged the segments of my life: from married to single, from mother to empy-nester, from a city in Texas to a small town in Minnesota. God has accompanied me, in the fullest sense of the word.

Am I, created in the image of God, supposed to provide accompaniment as well? Am I supposed to support, lead, and bridge for others? What does it look like to accompany children, spouses, siblings, parents or friends on their journeys the way that God accompanies me? I believe this may be a skill and an attitude to be cultivated in a culture that teaches us to look out for #1. While many of you may already do this as naturally as breathing (I will be watching and learning!) the rest of us will need to learn to accompany. As we seek to accompany one another, what will result? I'm thinking it may be a orchestra!

Friday, October 3, 2014


It's homecoming week in my little town. I don't know how many people actually come home for it, or how many people ever left but it has a lovely ring to it: homecoming. In the midst of our local celebrations I've been thinking a lot about "homecoming":

This month marks the anniversary of the death of a friend who introduced me to another use of the word homecoming: the day they brought their adopted child home. Their family celebrated Homecoming Day with all the excitement most birthdays garner.

Another homecoming happened this week: a child of my former church, now 17, abducted by her non-custodial mother 12 years ago was found in Mexico and returned to Texas. It felt like a homecoming to all of us who have waited and prayed these last 12 years, but to her it must feel as if she has been torn from her home.

Resurrection returned from its summer break and the haunting melody of its theme song adds a bit of melancholy background music to my week. Searching for the source of the theme song I found this video of the song. It's called Coming Home, Part 2, which led me to another kind of homecoming: the soldiers.

The homecoming experiences of returning soldiers must be as myriad as their service experiences; none of them are coming home unchanged. Is it still home when you are different?

Just over a week ago I "virtually" celebrated the homecoming of a friend who had a brain tumor removed. She's not home free, but she's home from the hospital and healing.

When I went to my high school class reunion this summer another reality set in - most of us had no home there any longer. Parents had moved away, passed away, or were infirm and cared for at the "nursing home". The houses we lived in back then were occupied by others, or standing empty.

Though it clearly dates me, and kind of embarrasses me, I have always resonated with the poetry of John Denver's Rocky Mountain High: 
"He was born in the summer of his twenty-seventh year,
Coming home, to a place he'd never been before.
Left yesterday behind him,
You might say he was born again.
Might say he'd found the key to every door."
Home is the place where we have the keys. The place where we know the rules, and where things are kept, and what the idioms and the silences mean; a place where we understand the values and the context. Sometimes home is a place we recognize, even if it's a place we've never been before.

Throughout my life, church has been home. Though my childhood was spent moving from place to place, church remained familiar. Though the buildings, the liturgies, the preachers and the hymns changed, God the source of all that is home remains. Wherever I find myself, church is coming home to a place I've never been before, and one I've never left.

I no longer live where my children grew up, but they have homes of their own, and church homes where they belong. My mother hasn't lived anywhere that I ever lived for over 35 years. When my daughters visit me, or I visit my mother, we are not coming home, but when we worship together we are at home, with God: our true home.

Where is your homecoming?