As far as we can tell, the Homecoming Sunday tradition at Altadena Baptist Church goes back to 1984, when we felt the need to reconnect with some families who had moved out of the immediate area, but were within driving distance. Throughout the years, we’ve found that it is also a great opportunity to encourage members and friends who live locally back into the church attendance habit, after a summer of vacations and other activities.
Many years we’ve come up with an inspiring theme that attracted people. For some out-of-towners, the first Sunday is on their calendar and they plan travel schedules so they can be here. A really special Homecoming happened in 2009, when we celebrated the church’s 75th Anniversary, put out a souvenir book* and enjoyed a whole weekend of activities.
I must admit that this year’s Homecoming Sunday sneaked up on me. In fact, the entire ministry staff — Pastor Connie, Glenn and I — looked at each other blankly during our first Homecoming planning session less than a month ago. We’ve struggled to come come up with our “Roots” theme, which seems to be gaining momentum and taking shape now.
So I asked myself: “Why are we doing this? It takes a lot of extra work. How important is it, really?”
What came to me was one word: RHYTHM! Every human endeavor needs to have a rhythm, a sense of movement forward. The pot needs to be stirred, or else the recipe may be ruined. For ABC, Homecoming Sunday is a way of stirring the pot.
Our lives are full of rhythms:
The numbers 24, 7, and 365 define the time segments of
our lives so well that we don’t have to add the words
“hours”, “days”, and “year”.
The four seasons bring welcome changes: people moving
to Southern California from colder climates feel disoriented
because the changes are so subtle here.
Other important rhythms in our lives are wake and sleep, work
and play, holiday preparations, etc.
Some of us who are watching the World Series this week keep
switching to football games and/or exhibition basketball,
showing that we’re going through a sports transition period.
Worship is one of the most important life rhythm for people of faith. We have been taught and have came to believe that regular Sunday worship is important to a thriving spiritual life. Homecoming Sunday at ABC is our way of reminding each other of this.
A familiar passage from the Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes shows how all-encompassing life’s rhythms are:
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter
a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to throw away;
a time to tear; and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace. 3:1-8
— Pastor George Van Alstine
*We still have a supply of these 75th Anniversary souvenir book. We’ll send one to anyone who requests it.