For others, “family” reflects pain, memories of bad times, neglect, maybe abuse, a childhood that wasn’t. Sometimes the difficulties of family come out in adulthood, often when adult relatives disagree over an inheritance or when one adult child is making sacrifices to care for an elderly parent when others don’t seem to be involved. These can be among the most difficult experiences for anyone. I can not imagine what it is like to feel alone, nor would I wish it on anyone. Over the years I’ve seen the pain in the lives of numerous people who are living in such situations. I’ve also seen how important the church family is. The Church is the Body of Christ. We are a family. It’s for a reason that Jesus considers all who do the will of His Father in heaven to be brothers and sisters; because that is ex-actly what we are—family! The reality is that for some people, the church is the only meaningful family they may have.
On our recent road trip, my children and I experienced the blessing of family. We spent approximately 120 hours together in our van. We’ve always enjoyed doing that. We were able to enjoy plenty of time with brothers, cousins, parents, grandparents, uncles and aunts. We enjoyed all those experiences. We counted on them. We expected these happy experiences.
We also experienced something we weren’t expecting; the outpouring of love, generosity and concern by other members of the family of God.
On our return trip home, after much delay due to mechanical matters, we arrived in Edmonton with one night rest in the previous three nights. I could have easily re-written the dictionary definitions for both exhaustion and frustration (and, for that matter, “gratitude” that we were actually going home). But still, exhaustion was a strong reality. We arrived in Edmonton expecting a bowl of soup, a bit of rest, and then we would be carrying on to Whitehorse. Instead, we were greeted with an incredible feast, literally.
There must have been enough food for our family and every teenager in our church; and it was all so good. BBQ chicken, T-bone steaks, shrimp and of course all the trimmings that go with these things. We were spoiled. Totally. But it wasn’t just the food, it was the care that came with it. For the first time since starting work on my engine, I was able to relax. Certainly my family in California helped me tremendously (especially my brother working with me through the night). My parents provided me with every comfort they can give. But I was under a lot of stress at the time, making it difficult to relax. In Edmonton I relaxed. When it was time to leave, they loaded us up with enough food for about 3 days (I was hoping this didn’t mean we would need 3 days to travel home!). Lots of good food, all packaged and ready for a road trip. And, on top of it all, being the eve of the Armenian Christmas, they gave us wonderful gifts to take home. What a blessing. All that to say, they became family for us.
Christmas is over. We’re all back to our regular responsibilities. Let’s not forget one of our chief responsibilities - being family to those around us. I can guarantee you one thing, you won’t have to look far to find someone you can be family to.