There’s a story in the Bible, found at Mark 6, 1-6 and it goes kinda like this: Jesus had started his ministry. He had already performed various miracles and healed various sicknesses when he decided to take a trip to his home town of Nazareth. The problem was, when the people of Nazareth saw Jesus walk into town, they did not see a prophet, or the Son of God. They saw the kid that left town.
To His hometown folks, Jesus was still the little kid who lived there just a few years earlier; who played in the streets and had brothers and sisters and friends. No matter what he said or did, they just saw the carpenter; he was still Mary and Joseph’s son. So, they seemed to resist the idea that this familiar, average kid, the carpenter, could possibly have become anything other than ordinary. They outwardly doubted he had any extraordinary powers or prowess or knowledge.
Jesus, frustrated, said “‘Only in his hometown, among his relatives, and in his own house is a prophet without honour.” Mark further described: “He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them. And he was amazed at their lack of faith.”
I can identify, in an odd, sorta backwards, upside-down way, with what Jesus felt during his homecoming. You see, I just went home for the first time, really, in about ten years, and I just did not know quite what to expect. How would I be treated? I mean, my son was killed in a botched ROBBERY, and I had been in the media and stuff and those things change not only you but people’s perception of you. I wondered if people just might treat me differently if for no other reason than I feel so different from the guy that bolted town.
As it ends up, I should have harbored no anxiety.
In point of fact, like Jesus, the people of my home town did not consider me to be any different from the guy that pulled up stakes and left town ten years ago. I was, for a week, just Dick and Shirley’s kid; the kid that played baseball in the field, football in the front yard and tag in the school parking lot. I was, briefly, just the guy who hung out with friends, who played Army in the apple orchard and who made wise and unwise choices over the years. To be sure, there were plenty of hugs and “sorry for your loss” along the way but this was different.
There is something visceral about your home town. Home does not belong to you, you belong to home. The familiar smells, shapes and images; familiar streets and intersections all collide somewhere between the now and memory. Familiar faces. Tim, and Kathy and Cheryl, Jack and Karen and Martin and Mary Beth, CJ and Amy and Vicki and Tom and Tonya, Tracy and Darlene and Brenda, Steph and Sandy and Kieth, Scott and Deb and Jim and Jessica, Amanda and Ann and Bulldog, Ronnie and Jennifer, and Ken and Pooh and Sally. And Rick and Cherie and Ken and Mom and Dad. All faces so familiar in the mind’s eye but maybe with a tinge of time on the side.
Yes, the house still stands where Zachary was born, where he tore wall paper and played in his Johnny Jump Up. The scars still remain. The yard where he and his sisters played still bear the signs of holes dug and trees climbed and planted. The woods are still there. Their marks are still there. I looked and I remembered, my kids at age 8, 6, and 2.
But through it all, I was just Dan.
For a week.
So, understandably, Jesus may have been frustrated when he returned home and was just one of the gang, but I was not. It is nice to have a past, with people who share common experiences, who started by saying “Sorry for your loss”, but soon followed up with “Do you remember when?”
One can go home again. But leave your baggage behind. Because when you walk over that County line, you’re just the kid that left.
And for some people, that just isn’t so bad.
Because home is not necessarily where one’s heart is, home is where you’re comfortable enough to just be yourself; warts, pimples and pain. For one, it may be a place they left. For another, it’s the place they are.
But for me, home is everywhere, because now I remember how it feels.
Mark 6:1-6 “Jesus left there and went to his hometown, accompanied by his disciples. When the Sabbath came, he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were amazed. ‘Where did this man get these things?’ they asked. ‘What’s this wisdom that has been given him, that he even does miracles! Isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t this Mary’s son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren’t his sisters here with us?’ And they took offence at him. Jesus said to them, ‘Only in his hometown, among his relatives, and in his own house is a prophet without honour.’ He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them. And he was amazed at their lack of faith.”