Welcome Home! (2019)

By Rick Summy, Senior Pastor (2019)

“…the home we long for and belong to is finally where Christ is. I believe that home is Christ’s kingdom, which exists both within us and among us as we wend our prodigal ways through the world in search of it.”

Frederick Buechner

In a long-ago sermon still relevant today, George Buttrick asked those assembled “Are you going home for Christmas?” Whether the answer was yes or no, Buttrick proclaimed that “home, finally, is the manger in Bethlehem, the place where at midnight even the oxen kneel…home, is where Christ is…”

I have shared several times recently that the one thing people say most often about SOTV is that it feels like home. Whatever someone might mean by the comment, underneath it all, in the heart of things, is the recognition that Christ is present in this place and in and among its people.

So, “Welcome Home!” has become our tagline.

It remains for us to discover and say more about what this means, even while it might mean something both similar and different for each of us.

We’ve discussed some playful connectors to this tagline: “Welcome Home: We’ve got donuts” is my favorite one.

More seriously, SOTV is home because it is a place in which we are gathered, loved, and sent.


To state what is perhaps obvious, God gathers us to worship, learn, connect, and care. The emphasis is on the One who brings us together. People can choose to gather for all kinds of purposes, but God gathers us here. It is from God that we glean our meaning and purpose, from God that we are receive deep comfort and serious challenge. God both accepts us as we are and loves us so much that God will not simply leave us as we are. God is our reason for being together in this place, calling us not only as individuals but into community. It is to God’s house that we are called, and God’s presence that makes it home. How can we respond in any other way by worshiping God, offering our thanks and praise?


Once again, the stress is on the One who has loved us from the beginning of time, who loves us now, and who, through the death and resurrection of Jesus, promises to love us forever. Home is the place where we are loved, come what may. It’s God’s unconditional love for us that makes us less afraid, that forgives us our faults and failures, that proclaims that we are worthy of being loved. God is the subject of the sentence: God loves us. Period. There is nothing we can do to make God love us more and nothing we can do to make God love us less. That, of course, is not a license to do whatever we want, but is a promise to which we can cling through every storm of life that comes our way.


But there’s more. We are not called to stay home all of the time. Home is the place from which we start and to which
we return. In between, we’ve got work to do. God’s love is always for a larger purpose. God loves us so that we are
able to respond by loving others, our neighbors next door and around the world. We connect not just with ourselves. We don’t just care for one another. Our concern, our work, our advocacy and efforts are for all those in need, for all who are outside looking in, for all who are prevented from being their God-given selves. Our baptismal response to God’s great act of making us God’s own children includes “care for others and the world God made, and [to] work for justice and peace.” We do this as individuals, but also together, because God gathers us as the body of Christ in the world and loves us without condition.

Welcome Home: Gathered. Loved. Sent.

May this little line inspire and strengthen us, comfort and challenge us, be a phrase of hope and a call to action.

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