“There’s no place like home,”
I’d whisper with Judy Garland, clicking the heels of the dressy church shoes I’d ruined by covering them with glue and red glitter. The Wizard of OZ was my favorite movie as a child; I could recite the lyrics and lines along with the cast, including the transporting phrase “there’s no place like home.”
Home, I’ve found, is a word not limited to a single space or place. “Home” is the place where my family lives, the place where we gather together around the dinner table, the place where I tuck the kids in at night. “Home” is the house where I grew up and where my parents still live; the town where I went to high school and worked my first job in an ice cream stand; the church where I was baptized and confirmed, where I went to Sunday School and sang in the children’s choir. For the past five years, “home” has been in the sanctuary and amongst the people of Faith UMC, impacting the lives of others, building relationships with one another, and growing closer to Christ together. I’ve treasured those five years at Faith – and yet, God now has something else in store for me, for us.
As I pack boxes of Bible commentaries into my blue Ford Escape and head down Route 33 towards Bethlehem, a growing part of me feels a sense of coming “home.” Bethlehem is a kind of home for me. It is the place where I went to college and wrestled with my call to ministry. It is the city where I met my husband, where our children were born. This Christmas City stole its way into my heart nearly two decades ago when I was a high school student touring prospective colleges, and it has never let go.
And yet, it’s not just Bethlehem… there is a piece of Wesley that is “home” for me, too. During my senior year of college, just months before I’d head off to seminary, I found a temporary church-home-away-from-home at Wesley. I attended worship services (sitting in a pew near the back on the left-hand side) and even found my way into a Sunday morning Bible study. What I carry most from that time, from those Sunday mornings in that beautiful sanctuary, was that Wesley was one of the first places, one of the first churches, where I felt challenged to bring both my brain and my heart into my relationship with God. That has become a meaningful part of my identity as a pastor and as a Christian: to think and to feel, to follow, to serve. Now at the time, I had no sense that I would ever return to Wesley to serve as your pastor… yet somehow, that history and sense of “home” makes this appointment change feel full circle for me in a big-picture, God-directed way.
There’s no place like home, friends… so I look forward to finding “home” with you once again. I look forward to the things we’ll learn, the conversations we’ll have, the lives we’ll transform, the laughs we’ll share. I look forward to all the Christmas Eves and Easter mornings to come.
Most of all, I look forward to experiencing what it means to be “people blessing people”
as we serve Christ and embody Christ’s love together.
Rev. Candy LaBar