You Can’t Go Home Again* is the name of a 1940 novel by Thomas Wolf, about an author who writes memoirs on how he grew up in an American small town. Unfortunately, his depiction of his home town is so unflattering that it even leads to threats on his life. Wolf uses this as a metaphor for the rapid changes taking place in society during the 1920s and 30s and how average people were responding.
During the first season of Battlestar Galactica,** the spacecraft Viper is badly damaged, and Starbuck is stranded on an inhospitable planet. The title of the episode, “You Can’t Go Home Again,” expresses the virtual hopelessness of her situation. Since Starbuck is a space hero, she finds a way to rejoin her squadron, but she never does get home again.
Always Coming Home*** is a 1985 novel by Ursula LeGuin, in which she creates a fictional distant-future “Kesh” culture in Northern California, based on Native American models, who have only vague memories of our day and our society. Through the thoughts of a woman named Stone Telling, she expresses the longing for the “something more” every sensitive person of every culture seems to be reaching for.
This theme of wanting to go home seems to describe a major element of our humanity. We know we “can’t go home again,” and yet some part of us feels we’re “always coming home.” We use words like “nostalgia” and “deja vu” to describe the uncanny longing we feel about the present moment in the context of the larger past and the limitless future.
I’d like us to think about HOMECOMING SUNDAY at ABC that way. Most of those I’m writing to have mixtures of feelings and impressions connected with the Church. As you consider attending this reunion service, you may re-experience good memories you’d enjoy having again, but you may also have a fear that you’ll be disappointed that things aren’t the same. It’s actually out of such blends of thoughts and feelings that growth and creativity emerge. If we’re all preparing ourselves in this way, the combinations of our personal journeys may bring some surprises.
We just had a little foretaste at last Sunday’s worship service when John and Nadine Walsworth visited from Santa Rosa. John’s mom, Peggy Golden still lives right next door to the Church and is still a very active member. Nadine’s dad, the Rev. James Mason, was Pastor here in the 1960s. After the worship service, Nadine, John and a few of us who knew them way-back-when had an animated conversation about ABC, then, now and in the future.
Pastor Connie and I have decided to preach a shared sermon on Homecoming Sunday. We’re just beginning to shape our ideas, but we’re asking the Lord to lead us as we try to interpret and reset ABC’s course, along with our current active congregation and our special guests from the past. We hope you’ll be part of the experience, rather than being Home Alone.****
* I confess I’ve never read this book.
** I confess I’ve never seen even one episode.
*** I confess I haven’t read this book either. Really, I’m not very good at reading novels or at watching TV series. But I’m a whiz at Wikipedia research.
**** I confess I have watched this 1990 movie twice, plus the sequels.
— Pastor George Van Alstine