Hometown…doesn’t that have a nice ring to it? Hometown conjures up memories of the place where we grew up, playgrounds and schools where we spent many years with our childhood friends and classmates, neighborhoods where most of our relatives lived within a few blocks of us, and home is where our old house probably still stands. Going “back home” sounds good, doesn’t it? It just feels right. Home has a special place in my heart and it always will.
To this day, visits to my home town are loaded with memories. Driving around my small hometown in Ohio my mind is instantly transported back in time to when I first rode my Schwinn bike down that long hill to the grocery for my mom. I vividly remember the time I fell and knocked out my front tooth during 2nd grade recess. Friday nights were my favorite when my girlfriends and I would all pile in one car to go bowling. (It was not that we liked bowling so much as there would be boys there, and we liked boys.)
Hometown is where my brother and I braved the freezing cold of the north in order to build snow tunnels. We refused to come inside until our hands were numb. Home is where my friend and I made buckeye necklaces from the tree in my front yard, and where Mom baked pies on Sunday morning before church. But, the highlight of the summer in my hometown was when the whole town gathered on the grass at Firestone Park for the fireworks on the Fourth of July. Those are sweet memories.
This week, I was reading about the time Jesus took His disciples back to His hometown. I am sure his students were excited to see where their teacher grew up. Maybe they would get a chance to meet some of Jesus’ childhood friends and classmates and hear stories from relatives about when Jesus was a little boy. It would be wonderful if they could all sit at the long wooden table that Jesus had made, share some of his mom’s cooking, and get to stay in the house that Jesus called home. I am sure they wondered if Jesus’ other brothers and sisters looked like Him? And did any of siblings have special powers like their brother? They were about to find out.
The details of Jesus’ journey back home are in Mark 6:1-6, but the trip doesn’t end like I imagined it would. Because this was not the first stop on The Jesus Tour, word would have gotten back to Nazareth that their Hometown Boy was raising the dead, healing lepers and casting out demons. I would have expected them to throw Jesus a grand “Welcome Home” party by starting out the day with a parade and finishing with fireworks. This is obviously not how they treated Him. We can tell this from Jesus’ comment to his disciples, “Only in his home town, among his relatives and in his own house is a prophet without honor.” (Mark 6:4) What?? Did I read that right? Without honor? The wood worker had become a miracle worker and no one in the whole town honored him as their Hometown Hero?
This weekend, as we celebrate Independence Day, I have to ask myself this question: How well do we as a nation honor our Hometown Heroes – our American soldiers? On a more personal level, how well do I honor the soldiers that I know? When we send these men and women off to defend our nation and uphold our rights, they are our hometown heroes. But, when they return home…after the parade, parties, and pyrotechnic shows…what then? How well do we HONOR our own HOMETOWN HEROES?
It’s something to think about…