There’s No Place Like Home (11/1/15)

Posted by on Nov 7, 2015 in Sermons | 0 comments

The Prodigal Father longed for his son to return home.  When the son came to his senses and came home, the Father rejoiced (sang and danced… a we saw in last week’s sermon?).  God wants us to come home to Him!

On Sunday 11/1/15, we celebrated our church’s anniversary by holding a single service.  It was like a homecoming as the “9:30 people” worshiped with the “11:00 people.”  Afterwards we celebrated with a luncheon and lots of pictures in the Fellowship Hall.

Click the “Play” button to start the recording, then scroll down to follow along.

(Note:  After the scripture reading, the sermon opens with a clip of the closing scene of “The Wizard of Oz.”  The video was shown to the congregation, but of course, all that you’ll hear here is the audio.  If you want to see the video, pause the player, scroll down, and view the video below…)



The scripture reading (including the hard to pronounce names!) was from Nehemiah 8:1-12.  Click the drop down box to follow along…

Nehemiah 8:1-12

1  In October, when the Israelites had settled in their towns, 8:1 all the people assembled with a unified purpose at the square just inside the Water Gate. They asked Ezra the scribe to bring out the Book of the Law of Moses, which the Lord had given for Israel to obey.

2 So on October 8 Ezra the priest brought the Book of the Law before the assembly, which included the men and women and all the children old enough to understand.

3 He faced the square just inside the Water Gate from early morning until noon and read aloud to everyone who could understand. All the people listened closely to the Book of the Law.

4 Ezra the scribe stood on a high wooden platform that had been made for the occasion. To his right stood Mattithiah, Shema, Anaiah, Uriah, Hilkiah, and Maaseiah. To his left stood Pedaiah, Mishael, Malkijah, Hashum, Hashbaddanah, Zechariah, and Meshullam.

5 Ezra stood on the platform in full view of all the people. When they saw him open the book, they all rose to their feet.

6 Then Ezra praised the Lord, the great God, and all the people chanted, “Amen! Amen!” as they lifted their hands. Then they bowed down and worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground.

7 The Levites—Jeshua, Bani, Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodiah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan, and Pelaiah—then instructed the people in the Law while everyone remained in their places.

8 They read from the Book of the Law of God and clearly explained the meaning of what was being read, helping the people understand each passage.

9 Then Nehemiah the governor, Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who were interpreting for the people said to them, “Don’t mourn or weep on such a day as this! For today is a sacred day before the Lord your God.” For the people had all been weeping as they listened to the words of the Law.

10 And Nehemiah continued, “Go and celebrate with a feast of rich foods and sweet drinks, and share gifts of food with people who have nothing prepared. This is a sacred day before our Lord. Don’t be dejected and sad, for the joy of the Lord is your strength!”

11 And the Levites, too, quieted the people, telling them, “Hush! Don’t weep! For this is a sacred day.”

12 So the people went away to eat and drink at a festive meal, to share gifts of food, and to celebrate with great joy because they had heard God’s words and understood them.

Holy Bible, New Living Translation ®, copyright © 1996, 2004 by Tyndale Charitable Trust. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers. All rights reserved. 


Here’s the You Tube video of the familiar closing scene of “The Wizard of Oz”…



There’s No Place Like Home for the Holidays…

We’ve all seen the classic movie, “The Wizard of Oz.”  In this movie, Dorothy and Toto find themselves in a foreign but magical land full of strange scenes and exotic creatures.  Though they meet some rather fanciful friends while there,  Dorothy never quite finds a place to call home.  Toward the end of the movie, Dorothy repeats that line that we all know so well,  Smithsonian-Ruby Slipppers _22-30 400x300

There no place like home… there’s no place like home…

Truly is no place like home… and I suspect you and I can identify with Dorothy can’t we?  Especially as we enter this season which I like to refer to as “Hallo-Thanks-Mas-Eve.”

There is a drawing for HOME.  Asbury said that we’re homesick for heaven…so God gave us families.

Just like Motel 8 “leaves the lights on for us,” there’s something special about coming home to a place where your arrival is anticipated and welcome.


There’s No Place Like Home for the Israelites…

The idea of going home is nothing new; it goes way back to the Old Testament, at least back to the days when God’s people from Israel were permitted to return to their “homeland” from having been exiled in Babylon for 70 years.

By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept when we remembered Zion.
There on the poplars we hung our harps,

for there our captors asked us for songs, our tormentors demanded songs of joy;they said, “Sing us one of the songs of Zion!”

How can we sing the songs of the Lord while in a foreign land?   NIV, Psalm 137:1-4

Oh how they longed to click their sandals together and say, “There’s no place like home.”  But in Babylon/Persia there was no wish being granted… yet.

  Later that year Nehemiah traveled to Israel, leading the third of three returns by the Jewish people following their 70 years in exile.  Most of the book centers on events in Jerusalem.  The narrative concludes around the year 430 BC, and scholars believe the book was written shortly thereafter.


Going Home is God’s Idea!

Like the exiled Israelites, who wept and longed for their homeland, there’s something within the way we’re wired that makes us want go go home.  In nature, God created animals with an incredible sense of direction called “the homing instinct.”  For example, against all  odds…

  • Salmon swim home from the sea to spawn in the rivers of their birth.  White Goose Alcyon Lake _JeffMaz_300x300
  • After flying thousands of miles, the swallows return to their nests year after year in San Juan Capistrano.
  • Every year thousands of Tundra Swan and Snow Geese make a 4000-5000 mile journey from Alaska to the Pocossin Lake Wildlife Refuge in eastern North Carolina.

There is something that God has given which makes us want to be home.  We gather in this homecoming (our 130th anniversary) to be together.  We WANT to be together… we WANT to see each other… we WANT  to give thanks to God for 130 amazing years of ministry here in this church.

Once upon a time, Pastor Jim complained about the “Methodist Madness”… that traditional time where the congregation is asked to wander around, shake hands, “pass the peace”… and interrupt the flow of the worship service!  Do we really need that?

In response to his complaints, Pastor Jim’s  mentor, the Rev. Jay Amey, reminded Pastor Jim that this is part of their worship dynamic. It’s part of their being together, of celebrating. 

Homecomings are special because they allow us the opportunity to catch up.  When we gather in our own family homecomings we do a lot of catching up… times of joy, times of sorrow, times of laughter, times of heartache.  But we’re in a safe place, a familiar surrounding… we’re home!

We have so much to celebrate here in Pitman.  God has given us a home so that He could protect and provide for us…

For he is our God.  We are the people he watches over, the flock under his care.  Psalm 95:7
Holy Bible, New Living Translation ®, copyright © 1996, 2004 by Tyndale Charitable Trust.
Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers. All rights reserved.


God Calls Us Home…

There are many times that God calls people to come home and the result often ends in a revival or renewal. After being home for a special occasion or the holidays we feel better, don’t we?  There has been a sense of revival or renewal.

  • The Protestant Reformation in 1517 led by Martin Luther involved the Bible being translated for the people to understand for the first time.  The old, dead, works-based religiosity of the Roman Catholics gave way to vibrant, living, grace-filled,  Bible based faith.
  • 300 years later, John and Charles Wesley led the “first great awakening” in England.Grove Arch Wide _0455
  • Another such occasion was in 1880 with the start of the Pitman Grove Methodist Episcopal Church. Started as a result of the Pitman Grove Camp Meeting services.  In fact, the name  of the Camp Meeting like the church is after Rev. Charles Pitman, who is described as “an eloquent and mighty expounder of the Word of God.”

Our church started on November 10, 1883 with only 43 members!  And the Rev. Charles Berry served this church from its start until June of 1886.  Only the records in Heaven will be able to show accurately the number of lives who have been blessed and either are or will be in glory one day because of the church’s ministry. (Click Here to see more posts about our church’s history).

God calls us back to him.  God calls us Home.  Whether its back to His Word or to the nurturing fellowship of a church, God continually calls us back to Himself.


That’s Why We Worship!

Worship is always the appropriate response to the presence of God.   It all Starts with worship.  Worship must be excellent, the Bible must be preached, people come expecting to have an experience with God. Someone has said, “Our depth of worship will determine  the level to which God can touch our lives.

Nehemiah 8:6 tells us that the people responded to the preached Word of God by lifting their hands, shouting “Amen, Amen” and by falling to the ground on their faces in worship of God.  It’s a scenario that has been repeated often throughout the years in this church. When the Holy Spirit moves,  it generally begins in worship.  And we are invited by God to respond!

When we worship and bow down in His presence, He  will  fill us to overflow with His power and love.  He makes us feel at home.  Windows-Ressurrection


Welcome Home!

The people of Nehemiah knew that the home they have with God no one can take away and no one can replace.

The people of Pitman UMC have a home which no one can take away and no one can replace.

In this home as we acknowledge 130 years of God’s faithfulness and the faithfulness of countless saints, let’s be intentional of doing our part so that we can continue to come home.


There’s a place near to me, where I’m longing to be…
…with our friends at the old country church.
There with mother we went and our Sundays were spent…
…with our friends at the old country church.
As a small country boy, how my heart beat with joy…
…when I knelt in the old country church.
And the Savior above, by His wonderful love…
… saved my soul at the old country church.
Oft my thoughts make me weep, for so many now sleep…
… in their graves at the old country church.
And one day I’ll rest with the friends I love best…
… in a grave near the old country church.
Precious years of memories, oh what joy they bring to me…

How I long once more to be… with my friends at the old country church.



It’s good to be home on this day, isn’t it?  I think I’ll close by saying to all of us what Nehemiah said to God’s people in Nehemiah 8:10:

Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared.

This day is sacred to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.






 Quiz Time!

As you reflect on what you’ve just heard/read, give this quiz a try.  If you don’t understand an answer (or if you disagree with the “correct” answer, post a comment)…


+     +     +     +     +     +     +

Click this button to view other sermons:   Sermon Archive





Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *