Some of us have been arguing about how long our annual Homecoming Sunday has been a tradition at ABC. As an obsessive researcher, I just had to find out. I rummaged through old records in the church basement until I discovered files of stored Messenger newsletters. My journey took me back through the years, by way of articles, announcements, names of people I’d forgotten and important milestones through the decades. Finally, I arrived at Sunday, November 4, 1982. We decided to invite former ABCers, who were able to make it, to come together to see the newly remodeled facilities, after the Campus Developments Task Force, chaired by Dave Olson, had led us in a several-months-long facelift project. Today, this memory gave me a déjà vu feeling when I looked down at our new flooring, which was installed to be ready for Homecoming Sunday 2017.

Here’s the Messenger article I wrote back then, published the week before:

Reunions. Jacob and Esau were twin brothers who struggled for dominance. Jacob won, but only by clever deceit. Esau’s anger was so great that Jacob had to leave Palestine and live in Midian. (This story can be found in Genesis 27 through 33.) 

For twenty years they were separated. During that time, Jacob’s character was molded by God through hard experience. Now, a much mellower and more compassionate person, he gathers his large clan to move back to Palestine, the place where God has destined him to establish a nation. 

Jacob’s one fear is that he will have to face Esau and pay for his past injustice. His anxiety is heightened when he spots Esau’s party coming to meet him, four-hundred men strong! It’s a virtual army. Jacob organizes his party to show the utmost humility and submission before Esau. Each person passes before him and bows low. 

Esau’s reaction is amazement: “What’s all this? You don’t owe me anything. God has given me all I need and more.” The wonderful surprise is that all the while God has been working in Jacob’s life, he has been just as active hundreds of miles away transforming Esau into a man of faith. 

Vengeance? That’s the farthest thing from Esau’s mind. He’s just glad to see his brother, and he gives him a full embrace. Jacob is so moved that he says to his brother, “Truly, to see your face is to see the face of God” (Genesis 33:10). 

Haven’t you felt that way when you’ve run into an old friend? “To see your face is to see the face of God.” You’ve been apart for years, but God has been at work in both of you. The old kinship is there, but some wonderful new dimensions have been added. You rejoice together at the shared experience of God’s grace. 

And that’s why we’re having Homecoming Sunday. You may choose to stay away because of some personal fear, but if you do, we’ll be cheated out of a great blessing. 

I hope to see you, and I know when I do, I will at the same time see the face of God

True in 1982; true in 2017.

— Pastor George Van Alstine

Spread the Word! If you’re on Facebook, we have set up an event page for Homecoming at — under the “share” button you can invite your Facebook friends!