Blessed… There’s No Place Like Home

After King Herod died, an angel from the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt. “Get up,” the angel said, “and take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel. Those who were trying to kill the child are dead.” Joseph got up, took the child and his mother, and went to the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaus ruled over Judea in place of his father Herod, Joseph was afraid to go there. Having been warned in a dream, he went to the area of Galilee. He settled in a city called Nazareth so that what was spoken through the prophets might be fulfilled: He will be called a Nazarene (Matthew 2:19-23, Common English Bible).

I enjoy going places. When I was eleven, my parents took my sisters and I on a trip covering most of the western United States. I saw some of the most beautiful places in the country. I loved Crater Lake in Oregon. San Francisco is an absolutely beautiful city, particularly if you can look past Alcatraz. The Grand Canyon is magnificent. I also saw places I am in no hurry to see again. I wasn’t at all thrilled looking at the remnants of a forest fire while driving (well, my dad was driving, I was riding in the back seat) through Idaho. And. I am in no hurry to go back to the Petrified Forest.

Fast forward a few years and there were two canoe trips in Canada and a white water trip down the Guadalupe River. I have seen the Scottish countryside and the Fjords in Norway.

There have also been some of the strange things in life. On a trip to California two years ago I saw snow on top of palm trees. That was weird. The WI-Fi password at the hotel in Roswell New Mexico that was “UFO2014” or something like that.

We don’t always like the travel we make. Take Mary and Joseph for example. They couldn’t have been thrilled with their forced vacation to the thriving metropolis of Bethlehem. Yet that was a dream vacation compared to their next trip. As we have talked about the past couple of days, Herod was after their newborn baby boy, Jesus. Herod wanted the King of the Jews dead. That caused a second forced vacation, this time to Egypt so they could save the life of their son and God’s Son.

No matter how long I am gone, I am always glad to get home. Sometimes home means something different than it does at others. When I was in the Navy, being home might have been being back to Norfolk after a cruise. At other times being home meant going home to Pasadena on leave. Today it is much the same. Sometimes going home means going to the parsonage in Sweeny and at others it means going to the condo Cindy and I own in Lufkin. It is the perception of home.

Depending on who the commentators and Biblical scholars are that you read along with who wrote the Gospel you happen to be reading, Joseph may or may not have been from Nazareth before Jesus was born. I feel pretty certain, when Mary and Joseph made it to the safety of Egypt, it felt like that could be home, at least for a while. Still, when the opportunity came to return to Israel, they made the journey. Matthew makes it sound as though Mary and Joseph had lived elsewhere and settled in Nazareth to avoid yet another threat against Jesus. It would be a recurring theme in his life.

When ever I returned home, in whatever that sense might be, I absolutely understood Dorothy’s words from the Wizard of Oz, “There’s no place like home.” I feel pretty certain Mary and Joseph felt the same way.

We may all feel like that in a physical sense when we have been away. Yet in a spiritual sense, we can be at home anytime. We are at home anytime we are in the presence of the Father. Mary and Joseph seemed to stay in the presence of the Father. And, for their efforts, the Father guided them each step of the way so they would know where they needed to be.

The same can be true for us too. We can enter into God’s presence at home of away when we pray, when we go to worship, when we fellowship with other believers, when we study the Scriptures and many other ways. Then, when we enter into God’s presence, we go to our real home once again.

How do you go home? How do you enter into the presence of God.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

Joy and Peace,
Keith

Copyright 2017, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

Author:

Spirita Spiro (Esperanza for "Spirit's Breath) is rather new in my life. But the blog is not. I began writing a blog several years ago. It lived under the title, "The Pastor Ponders." Over the years I have tried several different names and "The Pastor Ponders" always seemed to fit best. I am trying again with Spirita Spiro. For 27 years I was a full-time pastor in the United Methodist Church. This year, August 2018, I semi-retired (I can't actually retire quite yet) and began teaching social studies. It is something I have always wanted to do and if I was going to do this, I needed to make it sooner rather than later. So, I made the move. I thought with the career change there also needed to be a name change to the blog and other things, such as spiritual direction. Spirita Spiro is my attempt to share some of my thoughts. I often share what I am thinking with my dog "Bishop," but he keeps his thoughts to himself. He will even go to sleep sometimes while I am sharing my thoughts with him. The truth is, if it doesn't involve getting his ears scratched, his belly rubbed or some kind of treat, he really doesn't care. I will say this for him, he never argues with me or tells me I am wrong. So, I decided to share some of my thoughts with whoever might come across this blog in their ramblings around the Internet. I live with my wife Cindy and our little dog in Lufkin, Texas. I spent the past 27 years as a full-time United Methodist pastor. Most recently I served as pastor of First United Methodist Church in Sweeny, Texas. I have also served United Methodist congregations throughout East Texas including rural Madison County (Elwood UMC), Lovelady (First UMC) and Kennard (Center Hill UMC), Canton (First UMC), rural Smith County (Mt. Sylvan UMC and Union Chapel UMC), Grapeland (First UMC), Tyler (Pleasant Retreat UMC), Santa Fe (Aldersgate UMC), Freeport (First UMC) and Oyster Creek (Oyster Creek UMC), Diboll (First UMC), and now Sweeny (First UMC). My wife Cindy and I have been married for over 40 years. We have two grown sons. Wayne and his wife Nikki and all our grandsons (Kaleb, Noah, and Jaxon) live in Southern California. Christopher and his wife Morgan and both our granddaughters (Jenna and Natalie) live in Tyler Texas. I enjoy preaching and all aspects of preaching from research to writing to the actual preaching event. I also love writing, reading, playing the guitar as well as a bit of drawing. I have spent quite a bit of time over the past two years working with paracord on various projects, mostly prayer ropes I usually give away. I sing bass with a local barbershop chorus called The Coastalaires. I have also recently begun doing a little wood carving. I also enjoy playing with Bishop, something he likes a great deal better than listening to my thoughts. I hold an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Business Data Processing, specializing in Microcomputers from San Jacinto College in Pasadena, Texas, a Bachelor of Science in Political Science with a minor in History from Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, TX, a Master of Divinity from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX and a Doctor of Ministry from Carolina University of Theology. When I was a student at Carolina, the school was in Iron Station North Carolina. They have since relocated to Manassas Virginia (Yeah, go figure, a school named Carolina geographically in Virginia). This blog is mostly devotional writing, but there are other things here too. Just about every week I will either post my sermon manuscript or a video of the worship service. On occasion, I will post something I see in society. Occasionally I write a short story, a poem, or a song and will post it here too. I will say this, my motivations for writing this blog are really selfish. I write it to get what I am thinking out of my head and onto something a bit more permanent. They say, after all, once something is on the internet it never really goes away. Still, I hope you enjoy reading it. And, should you desire, you can one-up Bishop and actually tell me what you think. Who knows, it might generate a bit of discussion between you and me and anyone else who might make their way here. With Joy and Thankfulness, Keith Sweeny, Texas May 2018

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