Dear Members and Friends,
The word “Zion” occurs throughout the Hebrew Scriptures, but it doesn’t quite carry the emotional power for you and me that it carried for its first readers. Here’s a piece of advice for any non-Jew who reads the Old Testament: Zion = Home. In the Hebrew imagination, Zion was always and forever “home,” even for those far-flung Jews who had never laid eyes on the place. It was from Zion that they drew their strength, their identity, their remembrance of things past, and their hopes for things to come. This is why their forced exile in far-off Babylon created such songs of lament. This is why, in Jesus’ day, everyone was always going up to Jerusalem for the holidays. It was home.
And you? When you think of “home,” what comes to mind? Perhaps it’s certain people, mostly, with their old familiar voices and faces and ways. The word “home” inspires in us a longing, and sentimental feelings of safety, and acceptance, and love. Whether we experienced these things in our homes-of-origin or wished in vain for them, they are what “home” means to us. “Home” calls to mind certain sounds. It calls to mind for me the memory of my grandmother making French toast in the kitchen below, singing those rollicking old Methodist hymns of her childhood, as the songbirds announced the morning. Her house was always more home to me than anyplace else.
Speaking of French toast, “home” always seems to be associated with flavors, too, doesn’t it? I have made it my mission, when my wife is away, to familiarize my children with the things we ate in the 1970s and 80s. The old “comfort foods” of home. It seems that cabbage and potatoes play a prominent role in these. Among them I would count old fashioned dishes German hot potato salad, cabbage and kielbasa with potatoes, tuna noodle casserole, haluski, pierogis, and scalloped potatoes. (Did you ever notice that scalloped potatoes just sort of disappeared from the American dietary repertoire after years of prominence?) For desserts you’ve got such forgotten classics as custard pie and spice cake. It’s fun making these sentimental old dishes for my kids. I have to wonder why they fell out of favor, because they’re just as delicious today as they ever were.
In the spirit of coming home to our church family, and to our church building, and to God, “Kick Off Sunday” this year is being reimagined as “Homecoming Sunday.” By “Homecoming,” we do not mean that you need to rent a tux or wear a ball gown. What we mean is that we are encouraging everyone to come home to their church. Many have forgotten what they loved about church and what they’ve been missing during these days of isolation and worry. And so, COME BACK on September 12 for a return service of worship, with communion. Stay for a brief program by our youth mission team, which traveled over the summer to one of the poorest towns in Michigan, and stay for lunch, where the “comfort foods of home” will be served. There’s no need to bring anything, but if you have a favorite comfort food, feel free to cook it up and share it. Lunch will be served outside, weather permitting, by gloved and masked servers. Bower Hill Church is your Zion in a way: a place where you’ve been welcomed, and loved, and accepted, perhaps a place where you’ve made deep relationships and even shed an occasional tear, a place where you’ve pondered the big issues of life. We hope to see you soon.
In Christ’s Peace,