2 July 2021
I was in London on Tuesday night when England beat Germany, although sadly not at the match. I was walking with friends when suddenly a woman appeared right in front of us. I don’t know where she came from. She had clearly had too much to drink. She shouted with great confidence and happiness: “It’s coming home!” England football fans have been singing those words since Euro ’96, the last time the European Football Championships were held on English soil.
“It” of course refers to football. It suggests that football somehow belongs to England and in England. It is frankly a fond imagining. It is hard to deny that the game of football has its roots in this land, and this is where the rules were codified. But it is difficult to claim that it belongs here. It is a truly global game, played on the beaches, the plains and the streets of the world. And England has not won a major tournament since 1966.
So is it ‘coming home’ this year? It could be. I hope so. England has a better chance than it has had for many years. Just three more games to win, starting tomorrow with Ukraine. By the time you watch or read this, the dream may be over or it may still be alive. Who knows?
While we cannot be so confident that football is coming home, or even that England is football’s home, Christians can say with absolute confidence that “We’re going home.” We’re going home to Jesus Christ, to his new creation, along with all those who love him.
We can be sure of it, says Peter in the opening to his first letter (1 Peter 1:3-5). We have “an inheritance” that we have been born into, one that “can never perish, spoil or fade,” which is “kept in heaven for [us], who through faith are shielded by God’s power” until we possess it. It’s there, safe and secure. And God is keeping us safe until we get there.
We’re going home. And yet it’s a home we have not yet been to. We’re not returning to it. We’re going there for the first time. We were born in exile, far from home. That’s how Peter describes the Christians he is writing to: as “foreigners and exiles” (2:11). Yet in his mercy God has given us a home with him and he is taking us home to himself.
So next time you hear people singing, “It’s coming home” – or even sing the words yourself – quietly alter them and remind yourself: “We’re going home.” At least you can be sure of that!
Father, thank you that because of Jesus, even though we are not yet home, we are no longer homeless and you are taking us home. Amen.
Chris Hobbs, Senior Minister