Saturday, October 4, 2008

Thinking about Home-going on Homecoming

When I did funerals for African members of my former congregation, they were often referred to as someone's "Home-going" service. The person had finished their exile on earth and was returning home to Jesus. The observances began with a wake on Friday night, with prayers, speeches and lots and lots of singing, as the body lay in repose at the front of the church. The funeral services themselves were filled with full-throated singing, with tears and wailing, with powerful sermons and testimonials to the person's life. They were followed by hearty repasts, where hundreds of people gathered to eat, laugh, drink and enjoy one another's company.

Going home to Jesus was a major and significant event -- not just for the person who had gone home, but for the wide and extended community. It was an occasion for people to demonstrate the depths of their faith, their grief at losing a beloved companion, and their joy that someday they too, would go home to the loving arms of Jesus.

If you ever wondered about the phrase, "faith in the sure and certain hope of the resurrection from the dead," going to an African funeral would eliminate all doubts. We do go home to Jesus. And it is a homegoing worthy of celebration.

+ Kit

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