On the 16 th of September, Shiloh UMC had it's 2012 Homecoming (always on the third Sunday of September). We were hoping for a good crowd and we were not disappointed. The attendance quadrupled the previous week. There were folks there that we hadn't seen in years. Some people hadn't seen Joanne or me since we were married at Shiloh UMC over 41 years ago. Can you say "culture shock"?
Normally on Sunday, after the choir sings their special, they exit the choir loft and go to sit in the pews. This Sunday there wasn't enough room for them to come down, so the whole choir stayed in their place and they were all smiles. That is not a problem, that is a very good thing.
The special song, "A Heavenly Celebration", was provided during the service by Alyce Blanks. It is a blessing to have good friends who are so talented, willing, and available to share their talent.
We had a children's message about directions. We talked about how and why we use a GPS or maps. I told them that my favorite map was the one that told me where all the Cracker Barrel restaurants were on the interstate highways. We never leave home without it. Then we moved to how God gives us direction. We talked about how God has given us the Bible to be our life map.
It is incredible how the hymns sound, when you stand as the pastor in the front of a full church. When we sang "Praise Him, Praise Him", it was so powerful, you could feel the energy.
Cheyanne Toms and Emily Love took the children under 5 years old and had a class time with them during the preaching. They had a great time with the kids and we really appreciate their willingness to help.
And of of course, what would Homecoming Sunday be without a lunch after service. We encouraged everyone to stay for lunch and we thnk they all did. The comment was made that they had never been to a covered dish social where they didn't run out of food. "This is neverending food!" I hadn't seen so much food in a long time. It was a literal smorgasbord, more items than I can list. Trust me, no one left hungry.
Family, Friends, and Food
My dad, Charlie Sr., my sister, Karen, me, and my mom, Betty Johnson. Mom went home with a gluten free cake baked especially for her.
Jeremiah, Kate, Leah and baby Jeremiah with Kate's family, her mom, Kackie Allen, her sister, Jane Allen, her sister's baby, Thomas and her boyfriend, Nathan.
We were absolutely surprised to be joined by our friends, Dave and Julie Wright, who live in High Point NC. Dave had messaged me for the directions to the church. I kept my fingers crossed until I saw them walk in the door. We all went to church together years ago and getting together was like we had never been apart. Dave and I served as church deacons (Not UMC Deacons) together, way back when. It was Homecoming part 2.
Baby Jeremiah, Leah, Kate, Aunt Helen, Jeremiah, and Aunt Stella.
Joanne's cousins, Laurie Thomas and Mary Love.
Jeremiah and Kate with Tom and Carrie Castle.
Saturday night, I had a dream that woke me in a sweat. I dreamed that I arrived late to church, found that the parking lot was full and had to park across the road. Just as I was about to enter the sanctuary, I realized that I had left my Bible in the car and I had to run and get it. Then as I stepped into the pulpit, I realized that I had left my sermon at home. When I woke, realizing it was a dream, I knew that no matter what happened it wasn't going to be as bad as that dream. But, I still did double checks that I had everything I needed and that I was on time all morning.
We really want to thank all the members of Shiloh UMC, who worked so hard to make this year's Homecoming such a wonderful day. This was a day to celebrate the church and it's people.
It turned out to be a day beyond what any of us expected. More people, more smiles, more food, more fun, more fellowship, more laughing, more friends, well you get the idea. As things were winding down and people started leaving, we began the work of taking down the canopies, folding up the chairs and tables, and putting it all away. The day had been pleasantly cool and overcast, as we finished the clean up, it began to rain. How about that for perfect timing?
Every so often, you have a day or even a moment, where God reminds you just how much you're loved. This was one of those days. One of our guests made the comment that summed it all up for me. He said, "It looks like you all are having a lot of fun here". Yeah, that's right, we go to church and we have fun.