Coming Home Sermon

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Some background on that song… Coming Home

It was written by J.Cole, Jay-Z, Alex da Kid, and Skylar Grey… produced by Jay-Z and performed by Sean Combs aka Puff Daddy, aka P. Diddy, aka Diddy, aka Puffy… and Skylar Grey in 2010 and by 2011 it was certified as 2x Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (which means it had sold over 2 million copies in that year).

In the words of Ali G, RESPECT.

Jay-Z and Kid had gifted the song to Diddy for his album, Last Train to Paris. “Coming Home” is a biographically written hip hop and pop ballad inspired by moments in Diddy’s life—including the loss of his close friend, the Notorious B.I.G.

As it was performed today, the rap lyrics were left out…

However, here is a rather profound line in the rap lyrics…

“It’s easy to be Puff, but it’s harder to be Sean”

It’s easier to be who I’m trying to project myself as, than it is to actually be me.

Dang. There’s some truth.

Benedictine nun Joan Chittister wrote:

Better to walk through life simply and without masks, than to lose ourselves in the pursuit of identities that are purely cosmetic and commercial. Then, at least, we will be known for what we are rather than for what we are not.

Lose the mask, not your true self. Amen!

I love what Father G says… “You are exactly what God had in mind when he created you.”

Today, we’re going to be talking about coming home. Shari and I were traveling in the month of July and it was wonderful and there’s just nothing like coming HOME. That personal habitation, that familiar and familial place where we started and repeated celebrations of the milestones of our lives. Home, where you know where everything is and how everything works. Home, where you communicate in your shared primary language. Home, where comfort and help and healing is normative. Home, where we are most truly and in every way ourselves.

I’m coming home, I’m coming home

Tell the world I’m coming home
Let the rain wash away—all the pain of yesterday
I know my kingdom awaits—and they’ve forgiven my mistakes
I’m coming home, I’m coming home

Our Psalm this morning is quite unique among all the other Psalms because of its noted author… Moses.

Yes, that Moses. The one from lots of pages to the left in the Old Testament. Like 581 years worth of pages earlier. See why it’s so unique to be included in the Psalms that were written by David and the people who served and worked with him?

Unique is good, right?

OK, here we go

Psalm 90—A prayer of Moses, the man of God

1 Lord, you have been our home
since the beginning.

2 Before the mountains were born
and before you created the earth and the world, you are God.
You have always been, and you will always be.

3 You turn people back into dust.
You say, “Go back into dust, human beings.”

4 To you, a thousand years
is like the passing of a day,
or like a few hours in the night.

5 While people sleep, you take their lives.
They are like grass that grows up in the morning.

6 In the morning they are fresh and new,
but by evening they dry up and die.

7 We are destroyed by your anger;
we are terrified by your hot anger.

8 You have put the evil we have done right in front of you;
you clearly see our secret sins.

9 All our days pass while you are angry.
Our years end with a moan.

10 Our lifetime is seventy years
or, if we are strong, eighty years.
But the years are full of hard work and pain.
They pass quickly, and then we are gone.

11 Who knows the full power of your anger?
Your anger is as great as our fear of you should be.

12 Teach us how short our lives really are
so that we may be wise.

13 Lord, how long before you return
and show kindness to your servants?

14 Fill us with your love every morning.
Then we will sing and rejoice all our lives.

15 We have seen years of trouble.
Now give us as much joy as you gave us sorrow.

16 Show your servants the wonderful things you do;
show your greatness to their children.

17 Lord our God, treat us well.
Give us success in what we do;
yes, give us success in what we do.

What do you think of that unique Psalm?

If you were to describe it as a song, what kind of description would you give it?

Happy? Angry? Celebratory? Sad?

Is it Hip Hop or Blues? Is it Death Metal or K-Pop? Is it Emo or Punk? Country? Ranchero?

I’d prolly call it Emo.

Love me some sad music!

While I love certain parts of the Psalm, there are other parts that, well… they create a bit of tension for those of us who are Christians.

Moses was an early, ancient follower of the God of Israel. He was the one God used to liberate the enslaved Israelites from Egypt’s oppressive grip. He’s a giant of a figure in the Old Testament, a real legend. (emphasis): And he’s a man… not God. Moses did not imagine that God would come to earth in the person of Jesus Christ. Moses did not imagine the possibility of resurrection or eternal life.

For him, everything was fleeting, impermanent, here today and gone tomorrow.

So, when we read the Old Testament, we take Jesus with us as our guide in interpreting what it means for us today.

Remember in the Gospels when Jesus taught, “You have heard that it said… and then he’d quote something from the law of Moses… and then he’d take a sharp turn with: but I say unto you…”

So, that’s how we Christians try to understand our Bibles. What does Jesus have to say about this.

Jesus is our interpretive lens.

Here’s an interesting look at the end of Moses’ life.

Deuteronomy 34

5 And Moses the servant of the Lord died there in Moab, as the Lord had said.

6 He buried him in Moab, in the valley opposite Beth Peor, but to this day no one knows where his grave is.

7 Moses was a hundred and twenty years old when he died, yet his eyes were not weak nor his strength gone.

8 The Israelites grieved for Moses in the plains of Moab thirty days, until the time of weeping and mourning was over.

OK. Just a few observations.

First, who buried Moses? God did. Woah. That’s intense!

Second, why the unmarked and undetectable grave? Because God knew the people would enshrine Moses and worship him because they saw Moses as their liberator.

Third, didn’t Moses say in Psalm 90 that our years were confined to 70, maybe 80 years if we’re strong? And how old was Moses? (120) Hmmmm.

Yeah. Moses was a great man. But Moses is not God.


OK. We’re gonna swing way over into the New Testament for a moment and talk about the Transfiguration of Jesus.

You guys know that story?

In the Gospels, Jesus takes Peter, James, and John with him up to a mountain. On that mountain, Jesus is transfigured before them—his face shining as the sun and his garments became as white as the light.

Suddenly, Elijah and Moses appear with Jesus and Jesus begins to talk to them.

Remember – Elijah was a Prophet and Moses was the giver of the Law. Together, they represent the Law and Prophets… which is the Jewish description of what we call the Old Testament.

As Elijah and Moses begin to depart from the scene, Peter moves in to ask Jesus if the disciples should build three temples—one for Jesus, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.

But before Peter is finished talking, a bright cloud appears over them and a voice from the cloud says, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased. Listen to him.”

The disciples fall to the ground in fear, but Jesus approaches and touches them, telling them not to be afraid. When the disciples look up, they no longer see Moses or Elijah.

Peter was thinking of Jesus and Moses and Elijah as equals. He thought they all should be honored with a temple or a shrine of their own.

But God said, This is my Son. Listen to Him.

And that, my friends is exactly what I meant before when I said Jesus is our interpretive lens for understanding the Bible.

A religious mob surrounds a woman they’d caught in the act of adultery. They call over Jesus and say, Moses commanded that we stone the adulterer to death. What do you say?

I’m so glad they asked. Aren’t you? That’s how we interpret Scripture. And that’s how a woman was saved that day.

Jesus, what do you say?

OK – can we just go back to the Mount of Transfiguration for a sec?

Did you notice who was there?


Hello! Moses was there.

Moses, the guy who is recorded in Psalm 90 as saying:

“All our days pass while you are angry. Our years end with a moan.

Our lifetime is seventy years or, if we are strong, eighty years.
But the years are full of hard work and pain. They pass quickly, and then we are gone.

Who knows the full power of your anger? Your anger is as great as our fear of you should be.

Teach us how short our lives really are.”

Yup. That guy was there. And, this was approximately 1,600 years after he’d died.

I love this! The guy who did not imagine the Messiah, the Savior, the Son of God… the one who did not imagine the possibility of resurrection and eternal life… that guy was at the transfiguration of Jesus – where Jesus was revealed for who he truly is:

The Son of God. So listen to Him!

Elijah wasn’t God. Moses wasn’t God. Jesus is—and in Him, we are home.

Lord, you have been our home from the beginning.

Moses didn’t create you. The Bible didn’t breathe you into existence. It wasn’t a prophet who planned for your life.

No, those men and the others who wrote the words of Scripture were merely pointing to the One who was and is and forever shall be…

Ima blaze through this, so listen close: 

John 1

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; and nothing was made without him.

In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness,and the darkness cannot overcome it.

There was a man sent from God whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.

The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him.

He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed… he gave the right to become children of God.

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

Out of his fullness we have all received grace in abundance upon the grace already given. For the law was given through Moses; but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.

No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father and has made him known.

*     *     *

Lord, you have been our home from the beginning.

We are not at home in Moses. We are not at home in Elijah. We are not at home in the Old Testament or even the New Testament.

They are all given for us in order to point us toward HOME.

Lord Jesus, you have been our home from the beginning.

Some people find that they really identify more with Moses – ‘cause he’s like a real “law and order” kind of guy. Clear, tough laws, harsh penalties enforced. None of that wishy washy grace and mercy stuff. Just cold calculation. An eye for an eye. Tooth for a tooth. You mess with me, I mess with you.

Others really identify with the Elijah-type prophet. Words of fire, blazing everything and everyone down. Burn it all and see what survives. There’s a burning passion, a desire for regime change. Forget all that ever was—it was corrupt from the beginning anyway—let’s do something brand new!

Look, you can identify with that stuff—but it will never be home to you. At best, it will be a lifestyle brand. Your mask. Your chosen identity, your brand, your party, your thang. Your cable news, your bumper sticker, your branded hat, your branded shirt, your label. How you want to be seen.

But, can any of that be your HOME? Can you carry any of that into eternity?

Remember the lyrics from our song?

“It’s easy to be Puff, but it’s harder to be Sean”

It’s easier to be who I’m trying to project myself as, than it is to actually be me.

Lord, you have been our home from the beginning.

I’ll be honest with you—there’s a whole bunch of dark, twisted, morbid, perverted, unjust, immoral stuff written about in the Bible.

And some people make it their home. They comfortably justify their violent, patriarchal, colonizing, empire-building, racist, chauvinistic, sexually abusive world-view with words they got from the Bible.

They can’t do that with words from Jesus. And neither can we.

They make their home in Scripture and use selective literalism to claim that the way they move through the world is BECAUSE of their faith.

But I will tell you right now – that kind of faith finds its home in certain words in the Bible but it does not find its home in the person and work and testimony of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

Lord, you have been our home from the beginning.

The law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.

I was raised in law. The church selectively emphasized parts of the law of Moses that re-enforced their worldview.

Of course, they didn’t restrict the wearing of blended fabrics or the eating of bacon or shellfish or a rare or medium-rare steak.

They cherry-picked their way through Scripture and created a new kind of religion that quite honestly was no better than any other previous attempt at religion-making.

There was a lack of honesty, and an absence of that overwhelming grace seen in the actions and words of Jesus.

Which is exactly what the Gospel of John was saying…

“The law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.”

Where do we find our home, our belonging, our identity, our true north, our guiding light?

Lord Jesus, you have been our home from the beginning.

In you, we are at home.

In you, we can be our true selves.

In you we find grace; mercies new every morning.

Moses was a great man. But Moses wasn’t God. He did his best to communicate who he believed God to be. But he didn’t do that perfectly.

Quoting From Father Gregory Boyle’s most recent book, “The Whole Language: The Power of Extravagant Tenderness” —

Zorba the Greek said, “I think of God as being exactly like me… only bigger, stronger, crazier.” God in our own image. Surely, the God of requirements was born exactly from our projection. Someone told me once that we needed “to follow the demands of God.” I wasn’t aware that God took hostages. What are these “demands,” anyway?”

OK, funny thing about Moses who wrote Psalm 90 and had all that stuff about God’s hot anger destroying us and God being angry all our days and may our fear of God be as great as his anger toward us is…

Know what Moses’ fatal flaw was? Why God didn’t allow him to enter the promised land?

Anyone know? Moses had an anger problem. Throughout his life. It was constant.

He saw injustice and he got so mad he killed a man. He came down from the mountain with tablets from God and saw the people having too much fun and he broke the tablets. He got so mad, he beat the heck out of a rock.

Moses had an anger problem! 

So much so, that it shaped his concept of God. A projection. Thinking of god as being exactly like me… only bigger, stronger, crazier.

How do we know what God is like?

Moses gave his best effort to point us in the right direction. But Moses ain’t it.

You wanna know what God is like? Look at Jesus.

You wanna known what God has to say? Listen to Jesus.

You wanna know what God thinks of you? You go to Jesus—go like Nicodemus, go like Mary Magdalene, go like Zacchaeus, go like the bleeding woman, go like the lepers, go like all the sinners and scoundrels and beggars and rejects and the wounded hurting hungry masses did…

And you will find rest for your weary souls. You will be home. Secure. Loved. Cherished.

This is the Gospel. In Christ, we are loved, forgiven, and free. We are home.

Macrina Wiederkehr says:

I have learned that way down underneath all the busyness, something (or is it Someone?) waits for us to come home to who we truly are.


I am a husband, father, pastor, leader & reader. I love God, love people & love life.

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