" H e y   A l l "
           Notes from the Vicar of Grace
              inclusion service discovery gratitude
The Rev. Bill Harper

Hey All--

My mom rang a bell to call us home.  I can still hear the sound of it.  It hung outside our front door, and when she yanked the cord the bell echoed out over Quartermaster Harbor, and I could hear it.  Of course I didn't always heed it-but I really couldn't say I didn't hear it.  Honestly, that bell rarely felt like  a summons-it was more like an invitation.  During the Summer I was simply gone all day, down the beach, safe somewhere . . . or at least nearby, even if trouble was looming.  We wandered in and out of homes, my little band of 12 year old gypsies.  We rarely came to rest anywhere-moving, grazing for food where we found it, shirtless, shoeless, care-less.  And then the bell would ring.  Or toll.  And yes, I would wander home.

With gladness, really.  Dinner would be ready.  Dad would be home.  There'd be some story about my little sister; some news I didn't know.  After dinner my brother and I would swap stories and brag about who had done the craziest stuff during the day, and who had just escaped some ridiculous danger.  And then we would wander out into the dark together, gathering around beach fires and each other-until the bell would ring again-calling us home.  There was something we needed, as we folded ourselves into sleeping bags spread out over the deck. 

So the bell is ringing now, and home is right here.  Always-every Homecoming Sunday at Grace-I think of what it means to come home.  Go home.  What it means to hear that bell.  I realize that many, with sadness, feel  that they can't go home.  And far too many in the world have no home at all.  Others are trying to get away from home or feel trapped there.  And yet  . . . there remains within us a longing for "home," for a place where they want us; where there is food and shelter and story and love.  A place where every day they call us back-and when we are ready, or most in need, we return.

Grace is meant to be that place.  And often it is.  Every Homecoming Sunday, every September, the call goes out.  Those of us who are here stand on the porch and ring the bell for those of us who are on the road somewhere.  We watch with hope, or we return with hope.  "Let's go," we say.  "Here they come," we say.  And we are home.

See you soon.  This Sunday, or another.  There is a home here, for us.  And spread the word-the bell rings and the door is wide open.

Vicar signature2