KING COLUMN: Homecoming season in the South

Published 10:30 am Friday, September 1, 2023

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By Bill King
Pastor at Lanier Baptist Church

It has been said, “You can’t go home again.” I beg to disagree. Oh, I know the deeper meaning from Thomas Wolfe’s book is that home is never the same as we remember. There is a certain truth to that. The house I grew up in Rainsville, Alabama, was so much larger than the one I visited there a few years ago, before it was torn down. That may well have been because I was so much smaller back then. It may also be because we don’t always remember things exactly as they were. All that being said, it can still be a mighty enjoyable experience to return to the places we have once lived, worked, gone to school or church. Even though things may have changed from how we remember them, we can still go home.

When we think about homecoming here in the South, the first thing that may come to mind is that mid-season or later football game. It is football season, and here in the South everyone is excited, except that half-a-dozen people who can’t stand football. On opening weekend, we football fanatics will even stay up too late to watch a rain-delayed game between Vandy and Hawaii. After a long winter’s nap, and a scorching-hot summer, we would probably tune in to watch the Sagehens of Pomona College play the Anteaters of California Irvine, if that’s all we could find! 

This weekend, almost everyone will tee it up and kick it off, as it is officially the first weekend of college football. If you need me for something Saturday, don’t call. Just leave a message and I’ll get back with you after the season has ended! Hey, I’m joking. I’ll call you Sunday, after church. 

 Homecoming is that special game for alumni to go home to the school that educated them, or at least awarded them a degree. The host school usually schedules a much weaker opponent, so they can win by at least 134 points and everyone leaves happy…except the visiting team and fans.     

Last Sunday, I attended my first homecoming for this season. No, it wasn’t a football homecoming, it was a church homecoming. Lanier Baptist Church, where I now have the privilege of serving as pastor, had our annual homecoming day. (Yes, you are correct, I did retire, but what are you going to do?) We had a great day. There were former members there, present members there, and hopefully future members there. A dear friend and former staff member of mine at another church, Vince Helms, came to do our music for the day. Our new Mission’s Strategist for East Liberty Baptist Association, Don Downs, came to bring the message. They both did wonderful jobs. Then, we did what we always do at any homecoming. Whether it’s hot dogs from the stadium-concession stand, burgers grilled at a tailgate party in the parking lot, or buckets of the Colonel’s fried chicken in the fellowship hall, we eat! We don’t go to any of those events just to eat, but since we have gathered together…we eat. Have you ever noticed around this time each year and on into the fall there seems to be a shortage of eggs and pears at your store? That’s because of all those pear salads and deviled eggs we take to church homecomings!  

We should never forget where we’ve been or from where we came. We should never forget the people who have been special in our lives, and those who still are. Go home, see those people and remember those special times. Things may have changed, but go anyway.