But Jesus said, "Prophets are honoured by everyone, except the people of their hometown and their relatives and their own family."
I went back home this past Sunday. The church I’m serving is only the second congregation I’ve ever belonged to. I was baptized when I was 2½ months old at St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church in Hamilton, Ontario. That’s where my faith was born and grew. I attended Sunday School, confirmation classes, went to youth group (where I met my wife), got married, and had my 3 oldest kids baptized there. It was people there who prayed for me and encouraged me to follow my calling by going to seminary and becoming a pastor. When I was 35½ years old I was called to serve First Evangelical Lutheran Church in Port Colborne, Ontario and here I still am.
Well, this past Sunday I went home, so to speak. I participated in a pulpit exchange with their pastor. He came to Port Colborne and I went to Hamilton. I was kind of nervous and excited about going back. I’ve been back there from time to time to attend a wedding, a funeral, a conference meeting, the installation of their new pastor, and maybe one or two other things, but it was my first time since being ordained that I preached in that pulpit and presided at worship in that chancel. The congregation has two pastors, one who serves the German speaking part of the congregation and one who serves the English speaking. There are of course some overlaps but that’s the main gist of it. The pulpit exchange was with the English pastor. I went to the German worship service as well and read the lessons there. My German is good enough to read and to understand but not to preach.
It was a great experience. Only one thing would have made it better and that would have been presiding at Holy Communion. That congregation doesn’t have weekly communion yet and I happened to come on a non-communion Sunday. We did the Service of Word and Prayer out of the worship book With One Voice.
I was welcomed warmly and enthusiastically by the people of my old church. Many of the old folks remember me from childhood on (for good or bad). So, this preacher was honoured by the people of his hometown, by his relatives, and his own family. I’ll never forget it.