Music and the Spoken Word

Welcome-Homes - Sunday, August 24, 2014

If it’s true, as Shakespeare wrote, that “parting is such sweet sorrow,”1 then perhaps we could say that reuniting is the sweetest joy. While saying goodbye can be heart-wrenching at times, reconnecting with loved ones we haven’t seen in a while can be among life’s greatest moments.

For this reason, airports can be the happiest and the saddest of places—full of goodbyes and hellos that bring a tear to the eye and a lump to the throat. Soldiers returning from active service are joyously embraced. Loved ones away for a season are welcomed into open arms. And weary travelers are almost instantly rejuvenated by the sight of their family or friends. It matters not if they’ve been away for a few days or a few years—welcome-homes are moments to cherish.

In reality, we are continually saying goodbye and hello. And because life is short, we must make the most of each homecoming. Like the father in the parable of the prodigal son, we can be constantly looking forward to such homecomings, even if they seem to be “a great way off.”2

One grandmother will never forget the day her daughter’s family, who lived across the country, knocked on her door for a surprise visit. She didn’t know they were coming, but she could not have been more thrilled to see them. They were home! She welcomed them into her loving arms; she prepared their favorite foods; she made sure they were warm and comfortable and happy. She could not stop hugging them—especially the grandchildren. It had been too long since she was able to hold them close, so she did not let an opportunity pass to wrap her arms around them. The family felt like they belonged—like they had never been away. They were welcomed home.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if everyone, prodigal or not, could return home and find kind words, warm hearts, and a loving embrace? Is it possible that all those away from home could someday, somehow find the open arms of welcome- homes?

-Lloyd D. Newell

1. William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet, act 2, scene 2, lines 199–200.
2. Luke 15:20.