Home Dynamics – a Home-Coming Day Address

Beginning from Jerusalem (Luke 24 : 47)
Used not as a text to be expounded; but as a phrase furnishing an idea. 
FRIENDS, we are here to-day in answer to the call 
of memories. Back of your kindly invitations there 
have been silent spiritual appeals even more powerful. 
Every year the memory refrain of ''Home, Sweet 
Home,'' has been mutely sung by the autumn leaves, 
the winter snows, the spring flowers and the summer 
rains, so that with Coates Kinney we can all say: 

"Every tinkle on the shingles has an echo in the heart, 
And a thousand dreary fancies into busy being start. 
And a thousand recollections weave their bright hues into woof, 
As we listen to the patter of the soft rain on the roof.'' 

The memory of the old, shaded house, whose restful 
doorway once framed mother's presence; the memory 
of cool paths through the dewy grasses of mornings 
long gone; the memory of the white-branched, love- 
marked beeches on the hill slope, where young vows 
were once made; the memory of the sweet-toned bell 
that sang its peaceful summons to worshipers no longer 
here — ^these, and like memories, have been the urge that 
has reinforced your written invitations, and we are 
gathered again in the old home community. 

To those of us who in childhood moved away from 
this hallowed spot there are many changes noticeable. 
"We sense the pathetic absence of old landmarks as well 
as loved faces. We feel the jar of ultra newness as 
certain ''improvements'' obtrude themselves in the place 
of the bygone things we fain would see again. There 
is a noisy garage standing where the melody of the 
blacksmith's anvil used to be made ; there is a debonair 
public library covering the playground of the old brick 
schoolhouse; there is a brazen-fronted ''movie" theater 
within the walls of the little meeting-house that once 
sent forth the quavering cadences of common-meter 
hymns. The sacred things of yesterday are unable to 
hold their own against the profane things of to-day. 
Yes, and it is barely possible that to those of us who 
have been away, the pull of the old home attic has been 
as great as the pull of your anticipated welcome; for 
to the attic the quaint outgrown things of years agone 
have found their decrepit way. Where else are the 
worn, split-bottomed chairs, the settee, the andirons and 
the tongs? Where is the old Dutch oven that used to 
hover over the fireplace while from beneath its ample 
lid there came forth odors that have never been equaled 
before nor since ? Where are the horn-handled knives, 
the two-pronged forks, the pewter castor — and where 
are the frazzled remains of the once glorious fly-brush 
made of peacock feathers ? Where is the long-spindled, 
corded bedstead, on which the fat straw-tick supported 
the fatter feather bed, inviting disappearance and ob- 
livion? One by one in limping procession they have 
passed up the attic stairs. 

But why should it make any difference what be- 
comes of the rubbish of former generations? Why not 
make kindling-wood of grandmother's spinning-wheel 
and wreckage of grandfather's clock? The real answer 
explains our presence here to-day, and furnishes the 
theme of this address. As in nature there are forces 
that throw off from the center, and forces that draw 
in toward the center, so in human relationships there 
are heart forces that are concentric and heart forces 
that are eccentric. 

I. There are centripetal home forces that center in 
the home itself. Since the beginning of history and 
the dawn of tradition Jacobs have been returning to 
Hebron, and Naomis have been going back to Beth- 
lehem. From the corners of the earth men and women 
yield to the irresistible pull of home, and make pil- 
grimages to the scenes of their childhood. Is this the 
mere accident of custom, or is it not rather the subtle 
working of primordial impulses designed to preserve 
the integrity of the home, whence come the forces that 
move mankind, and weld the world to God? It is in 
the home that the family is builded, and it is in the 
family that the race is shaped. Let us therefore make 
brief inventory of the home's centripetal forces in the 
order of their importance. 

1. Family affection, that makes each member of the 
family love the home. No one ever loved a house for 
the sake of the house itself, or loved a tree or rock 
because of the inherent loveableness of rocks and trees. 
We love objects and places only as they are inseparably 
associated with somebody, and it is the somebody that 
we love, not the places and objects. Bring down from 
the attic a certain moth-eaten, rickety chair. It is bat- 
tered and unsightly, patched and tottery, yet we look 
at it through tears, and touch it with loving fingers. 
Are our hearts stirred because we love rusted tacks, 
ragged burlap or worm-eaten wood? No, not that. It 
is because mother sat there, or father sat there, or baby 
sat there. It is because some loved one sat there who 
was so much a part of ourselves as to affect the very 
wellsprings of our life purposes and conduct. All the 
finer sentiments that make life worth living — sympathy, 
kindness, forgiveness, considerateness, solicitude — are 
but different expressions of love. They are facets of 
the one diamond, and it is in the light of home that 
these facets are shaped to reveal their true luster. The 
home is the source of the formative influences that lead 
to human betterment. Whatever dwarfs the homing 
instinct blights humanity at its core, and whatever nur- 
tures it helps to give the world a sound heart. "What 
is the real offense of the man who profiteers in home 
necessities, house rents and home-building materials? 
Is it simply the grabbing of an unfair profit? No. 
That is bad enough, but the real offense is in the 
strangulation of the homing instinct. The profiteer is 
a home strangler. 

And apropos of home strangling, is it not barely 
possible that the modern woman needs to strengthen 
her appreciation of the divineness of her prerogative 
as a home-maker? There are certain theorists who, 
under the seductive plea of ''larger liberty," would 
reduce the home to a communistic garage, and turn the 
community's children over to the town council to be 
mothered. More than any one else it is the mother, 
the wife, the woman, who makes the home to be home. 
There are not enough men in the United States to 
make a home without the presence of a woman to give 
it the right atmosphere. The family is love's supreme 
institution; the home is the family's nesting-place; 
woman is the soul of the home; therefore every home- 
making woman is at the very fountain of the world's 
welfare and happiness. Let no woman who has either 
heart or brains be guilty of dallying with any theory 
of ''emancipation" that calls home a treadmill, and 
brands housework as drudgery. ''Housekeeping is 
only the shell of a woman's business," home-making is 
its heart. Does the daily grind become irksome? 
Doubtless it does. But how much of a price is irksome- 
ness when it pays for the privilege of being associated 
with almighty God in the work of molding and lifting 
the race! 

''The purple of her regal robe, 
The crown of regal worth. 
She wears who sways in gentleness 
The scepter of her hearth. '' 

2. Family loyalty, that impels each member to pro- 
tect the home. Based upon family affection, and grow- 
ing out of it, is a second centripetal home force that 
draws the members of the household into a league of 
home protection and defense. It inclines each to stand 
up for the rest, and bands them all together in a com- 
mon determination to preserve the family integrity. 
Most men, as Eauschenbusch says, toil early and late 
''with little else in mind except to maintain their 
homes.'' Most women spend two-thirds of their lives 
in a routine of sacrifice and self -repression in the in- 
terest of home. Most children therefore grow up im- 
bibing from the atmosphere of their surroundings a 
home loyalty that is interwoven with every fiber of 
their being. When conditions are such as to make this 
loyalty impossible, home is not home. Note the quick- 
ness of the average man to resent insult to his family. 
Note the swiftness of the mother as she springs to the 
defense of her children. Note the boasting of the boy 
as he relates the prowess of his dad. Note the pride 
of the girl as she describes the accomplishments of her 
mother. This centripetal loyalty must mean something. 
Jacob Riis says "that one of the direct enemies of the 
home is the slum'' It is the enemy of the home be- 
cause it breeds ignorance, disease and crime; and, 
where there is nothing to love that is loveable, and 
nothing to be loyal to that is worthy, the human being 
sinks to the level of the brute. Slum life, hotel life, 
tramp life, society life, or any other life that interferes 
with the normal growth of home, love and loyalty, is 
inimical to the highest interests of humanity. 

3. Family faith, that inspires all to dedicate the 
home to God. This third centripetal force is not found 
in every home, but it is found in all homes where 
family ideals are at their best. In material wealth, 
conveniences and scientific contrivances, we who are 
here to-day are away in advance of our forefathers. 
They knew nothing about wireless telegraphy, electric 
lighting, telephones, aeroplanes and automobiles, but 
they knew God better than we know Him. When our 
great-grandparents settled this community they en- 
dured hardships and privations of which we have never 
dreamed; their education was limited and unpedagog- 
ical; they never heard of Biblical criticism, and knew 
nothing of the *'two Isaiahs''; but they knew their 
Bibles, and in practically every Christian home there 
was family worship. Out in the fields grandfather read 
the New Testament while the horses rested, and in the 
house grandmother laid the good Book in a convenient 
place where she might pause occasionally for a precious 
glimpse as she went about her homely tasks. The utter 
simplicity of their unclouded faith made spiritual giants 
of those pioneers, and as one by one they have fallen 
with age about us, we have felt ourselves to be like 
underbrush in the presence of passing monarchs of the 
forest. Theirs was the day when mothers taught their 
children to memorize the word of God, so that from a 
babe each member of the family grew up, like Timothy, 
knowing the sacred writings which were able to make 
them *'wise unto salvation/' Since then there has been 
a gradual infusion of materialistic, pagan philosophy 
into the minds of those of our sons and daughters who 
have sat at the feet of imported professors, and these 
sons and daughters have come home from college spirit- 
ually negatived for the rest of their lives. The home 
is throwing up the job of Bible training; the public 
school can not undertake it because *' there are too 
many kinds of people to please"; the college is disposed 
to consider the sources of Biblical data as somewhat '* hy- 
pothetical, '^ and the university, to its own satisfaction, 
at least, has analyzed the Bible into nothingness. Even 
in ''church school" circles some of us, with unpracticed 
tongue, have begun to stammer in academic phrase, 
hoping to convey the impression that we are in touch 
with higher learning, but often getting unexpected 
results. The son of a leader in city Sunday-school 
work was asked if his school taught the pupils to memo- 
rize Scripture. ''Naw," he said, ''we don't have any 
of that memory stuff; we study religious education." 
Shades of the apostles, preserve us ! 

No school or other organization of learning can do 
for children and young people what the Christian home 
can do. The three centripetal forces — ^love, loyalty and 
faith — are primarily home forces. They center in the 
home. There they are given and there they are re- 
ceived. But if the home center is satisfied simply to 
centralize, it soon becomes a dead center. When the old 
Jerusalem church was becoming content to remain in 
Jerusalem, it was providentially "scattered abroad." 
Home forces can not remain at home. They are ex- 
pended within the home that they may be expanded 
beyond, and every Christian family circle becomes a 
miniature Jerusalem through: 

n. Centrifugal home forces that reach to the 
''uttermost part of the earth." This is a great vision 
we are trying to get before us — a vision of home as 
the place where, under divine benediction, all the best 
powers of the soul may grow, expand and shape them- 
selves for the job of making the world sweeter and 
better. Among the humblest of these outgoing in- 
fluences is: 

1, A radiating Hospitality that blesses every home 

''There are hermit souls that live withdrawn 

In the place of their self -content ; 
There are souls like stars, that dwell apart 

In a fellowless firmament; 
There are pioneer souls that blaze their paths 

Where highways never ran. 
But let me live by the side of the road 

And be a friend to man." 

And, after all, what is it that gives to the roadside 
home that indescribable air of hospitable hominess that 
is so delightful to us? Is it fine furniture, tapestries 
and gold? No, for we have sat at firesides where the 
light flickered over threadbare rugs and pathetically 
faded chairs, and have sensed the presence of a rich 
contentment that no money could buy. Is it an abun- 
dance of delectable food prepared with the skill of a 
chef, and served in elegant taste? No, for we remem- 
ber having sat at a rickety kitchen table, on which there 
was nothing but hot corn pone and sweet milk served 
a la any old way, and we had the time of our life. 
A warm good will glowing in the hearts of home folk, 
and expressing itself in unselfish cordiality — that, and 
that alone, speeds the parting guest, and gives joy to 
the guest who tarries. In fact, we sometimes feel that 
an excess of modern conveniences interferes with hos- 
pitality's radiation, so to speak. Pressing a button and 
installing a thermostat may result in light and heat, 
but human solicitude is not turned on that way. 

Permit me to paint a memory picture. The old 
farm home stood on the hill by the side of the ridge 
road, its gable windows overlooking the near-distant 
village, where chimney-tops signaled one another hos- 
pitably. The air was clear and cold, and the fields and 
woods were wrapped in the mantle of God Almighty's 
white. In the farmhouse on the hill every room was 
alive with excited anticipation as scurrying feet and 
hurrying hands wrought magic in the happy prepara- 
tion of the home-coming Thanksgiving dinner. Grand- 
mother sat in her invalid chair where her dear, remi- 
niscent eyes could see a little way down the road, and 
grandfather pottered around doing unnecessary things 
with an air of great concern. Under the direction of 
younger members of the household the finishing touches 
were being given here and there, and then the folks 
began to come. In threes, in sevens, in twos, in fives, 
they stormed the blessed old front porch, some crying, 
others laughing, and all talking at Once. Shall we 
attempt to describe that dinner? No, there are points 
of effort beyond which the vocabulary of mortals be- 
comes anemic and feeble. Suffice it to say that the 
longest dining-table was too short, and had to be sup- 
plemented by a table from the kitchen. The longest 
table-cloth was not long enough, and had to be helped 
out. Chairs were assembled from all over the place, 
and ''Webster's Unabridged" and the big family Bible 
were called upon to assist in elevating the younger 
generation. The only high-chair was given over to the 
youngest baby, who forthwith became the center of 
attention, and the happy meal that had begun with 
grandfather's ''blessing" closed with the tearful hope 
that the circle might remain unbroken for another year. 

Every man who goes forth into the world with such 
a picture in his heart has with him both a guardian 
angel and an angel of conquest over evil. But these 
centrifugal home forces, like circles, grow wider as they 
leave the center, and there is next: 

2. A constructive enthusiasm that hacks every com- 
mumty interest. The genuine home spirit, being un- 
selfish, is essentially missionary. Its virtues begin at 
home, but they can not stay there. It forms friend- 
ships that link home with home until an interlocked 
group of homes becomes a community, or a family of 
families, so that whatever blesses the community pros- 
pers each citizen, and whatever injures any individual 
cripples the community. Unwillingness or inability to 
see this in homes that are mere stay places, or worse, 
is responsible for the lack of a community conscience, 
which lack, in turn, is responsible for the retardation 
of all that's good. The entire burden of community 
betterment rests upon the homes that get back of every- 
thing that is right, and array themselves against every- 
thing that is wrong. May God have pity upon the 
spawning sources of those supine inhabitants who take 
greedy advantage of every civic improvement, but take 
no constructive interest in, and contribute nothing to, 
the public welfare. After the smashing of windows, 
robbery, looting and assault that took place during the 
strike of the Boston police force, the Transcript had 
this to say: ''Boston is reaping what she has sown. 
She is ascertaining that among large masses of her 
population no foundation of religion and character has 
been laid to which can be spiked a morality that will 
work.'' The foundations of religion and character are 
laid in Christian homes. Out from them must go the 
intelligence that seeks the community's good through 
all constructive religious, social, educational, political, 
commercial, civic and philanthropic organization, and 
no community life can even offer its families protection 
from the lust of the despoiler until men make home 
the object of their chiefest solicitude, and women con- 
sider home-making the supreme privilege of woman- 
hood. In a material sense Christian citizenship '' re- 
quires the subordination of private interests to the 
public good," but in a spiritual sense the civic right- 
eousness of a community never rises above the moral 
and religious ideals of the homes that compose it. 

It can not be said too frequently that the Christian 
home is the chief support of the church of our Lord, 
and is the supporting background of all community 
movements and institutions identified with the public 
weal. Out from a home atmosphere of sunny devout- 
ness a child goes naturally into the wider joy of the 
Master's kingdom. Out from a home atmosphere where 
books are loved he goes happily into the wider fields 
of knowledge. This is why the memory of school-days 
softens our eyes, and brings a reminiscent smile, and 
we love the poet who wrote : 

''The rieli air is sweet with the breath of September, 
The sumach is staining the hedges with red; 
Soft rests on the hill-slopes the light we remember, 
The glory of days that so long ago fled — 
When, brown-cheeked and ruddy, 
Blithe-hearted and free, 
The summons to study 
We answered with glee. 
Listen, oh I listen once more to the swell 
Of the masterful, merry Academy bell.*' 

But let US follow again the still widening circles of 
the home's centrifugal influences and we shall see: 

3. An upbuilding patriotism that supports every 
national ideal. When the World War began, we citi- 
zens of the United States felt ourselves to be merely 
long-distance spectators of a quarrel that was none of 
our business. We had no notion of entering the con- 
flict. We had been cultivating the ideals of peace. 
We even did not believe in war. But later, when un- 
bridled ruthlessness broke loose in Europe, seeking ut- 
terly to ''crush the spirit of all free peoples," and 
force upon the world the doctrine that ''might makes 
right," our Government decided that national honor 
made it necessary for us to leap into the fray and 
help the Allies. From the capitol at Washington a 
direct appeal to patriotism was sped across the thresh- 
old of the homes of America, and, like magic, the 
nation arose to the rescue. Now, what national ideal 
were we supporting? Simply this — ^we were upholding 
the traditions of our great-visioned forefathers who 
saw more in American patriotism than a mere willing- 
ness to fight when attacked. Around their firesides 
they dedicated themselves to their beloved America, 
and in their assemblies they dedicated their beloved 
America to almighty God and to the defense of eter- 
nal righteousness and justice. 

Under modern conditions we are in danger of los- 
ing this lofty ideal. Hordes of strangers from all 
over the world have swarmed into our cities, scattering 
godlessness and un-American conceptions of life and 
conduct. New York, for instance, is a city of cities. 
Within her corporate limits there are teeming popula- 
tions that neither speak our language nor understand 
one another. In the light of this fact, we scarcely 
know how to resent the unfeeling sneer that *'the 
statue of Liberty was designed by a Dago and pre- 
sented to the United States by the French to enlighten 
the Irish immigrant on his way to Dutch New York/' 
The children of these foreign folk are, many of them, 
keen-minded and eager to learn. They are capable of 
catching the true spirit of our Republic, but the trans- 
forming democracy of the unecclesiasticised religion of 
Jesus Christ is the only power that can make their 
perfect Americanization a fact. 

An American girl was in conversation with a titled 
Englishman who was inclined to snobbishness. He 
said: ''The stripes in your American flag make it 
look like a stick of cheap candy, don't you know." 
''Yes," she flashed, "there is some resemblance; it 
makes everybody sick who tries to lick it." Very 
gleefully and properly we shout our approval of this 
platform story, but, friends, we must not forget that 
American patriotism means more than exultation over 
victories. No type of patriotism is ideally American 
except Christian patriotism. The founders of our Re- 
public were men and women whose supreme aim was 
to dedicate it to the promotion of the Christian re- 
ligion. "We have always been classed among the Chris- 
tian nations of the world. The Supreme Court of the 
United States has declared that we are a Christian 
nation. The charters of the early colonies formally 
asserted the fact. "Within one hundred years after the 
landing at Jamestown three colleges were founded: 
Harvard, William and Mary, and Yale. They were all 
dedicated to the propagation of Christian righteous- 
ness. The national observance of Christmas and 
Thanksgiving Day has continuously proclaimed to the 
world that we are a Christian nation. So indisputa- 
ble is this fact; so plainly has it been written into our 
national history; so essentially has it been wrought 
into our national institutions and breathed into our 
very life — that an American home, to be patriotic in 
the highest sense, must be Christian. Deliberate god- 
lessness is treason to the ^' Stars and Stripes," and no 
atheist can be one hundred per cent. American. 

The final and already anticipated centrifugal force 
emanating from the home is: 

4. An out-reaching Christian sympathy that extends 
to the rim of the world, A Christian nation can not 
do otherwise than disseminate Christianity. In the 
very nature of things the religion of Jesus Christ 
has to be given in order to be kept. From the home, 
through the church, its radiating power is divinely 
designed to go out and out until it touches the bor- 
debris of human habitations. In the necessary effort 
to reach and warm the chilled heart of the last 
man lies the power that keeps the home fires 
burning. Such is the ideal. Such the divine 
plan. But how well are we qualified to carry it out? 
Investigation shows that half the children and youth 
of our own country are not reached by any organized 
religious educational influence whatever. Multiplied 
thousands of children from polyglot and unenlightened 
birth-springs are streaming into the current of to-mor- 
row's citizenship while an inadequate number of Bible 
schools are devoting thirty minutes a week to the work 
of focusing the sun rays of the Christian religion upon 
the turbid tide. Can this *' spiritual illiteracy,'' this 
pauperism of soul, go on forever without cumulative 
and retroactive disaster? Can a miasmatic marsh for- 
ever be left undrained without menace to the dwellers 
on the heights? The mayor of a great city once re- 
fused to inspect and clean up the slums. His daughter 
bought an expensive coat from a fashionable modiste, 
who let out a part of the work to a less fashionable 
tailor, who sub-let some of the rougher sewing to a 
tenement seamstress. After wearing the garment a 
few times, the young girl sickened and died of a ter- 
rible contagion. The tenement had struck back. Ex- 
tending the argument, can any American Christian 
home afford not to cultivate a world vision? Some- 
how, sometime, the *' uttermost part of the earth" will 
strike back unless our Lord's commission is carried 
out, beginning at the Jerusalem of each Christian fire- 
side and reaching to the world's horizon. 

That, and that alone, which can save our country 
from the crumbling disintegration that has befallen 
the nations of antiquity, is the continuous infusion of 
the spiritual ideals of the Christian religion into our 
home and national life. These spiritual ideals include 
a redemptive interest in all '^the people that sit in 
darkness.'' In saving others we save ourselves, and in 
neglecting ourselves we lose the rest. Sectarianism 
and liberalism have been equally shortsighted in failing 
to see that the New Testament church solves the prob- 
lem of universal brotherhood by simply consisting of 
the total number of individuals who, through implicit 
obedience to the divine will, are united with and living 
in Jesus Christ, and so constitute the ''family of God." 
The sectarian spirit can not make disciples of all the 
nations because the nations do not care to be en- 
meshed in fifty-seven varieties of ecclesiastical harness. 
The spirit of liberalism can not ''go into all the world 
and preach the gospel," because, unless it can first 
get its feet placed somewhere, it can not even start. 
Our heterogeneous population puts us in racial touch 
with the world, but the world can never be touched 
spiritually through a heterogeneous gospel. Josiah 
Strong said: *^The supreme need of the world is a 
real God; not the great perhaps, but the great I am,'' 
If this be true, then, in the very nature of things, the 
preparation to meet the world's need must begin in the 
warm firelight of the world's homes. 

Friends, those of you who have stayed here in the 
old home community are the custodians of the material 
things associated with the childhood of us all. It is 
your privilege daily to look upon scenes the very ab- 
sence from which ofttimes makes the rest of us sick at 
heart. Once more we home-comers scatter to our newer 
places of interest, carrying added memories of your 
graciousness. Once more we leave to you the care of 
the old home that is so rich in associations. Once 
more from the hill-road we shall look back upon the 
homes of friends who are here, and upon the near-by 
peaceful abiding-place of loved ones that are gone, 
and say ''good-by till we meet again." 

'' The clouds are round us and the snow-drifts thicken. 
O, Thou dear Shepherd, leave us not to sicken 
In the waste night; our tardy footsteps quicken; 
At evening bring us home.'' 
by E. W, Thornton