At this holiday time of the year, the word "family" often seems to come up. Thanksgiving is observed in Canada in October and in the United States in November. Next month there will again be times of holiday celebrations, especially at Christmas. There is generally a strong desire to be together at these special times as a family. The sentiment was made famous by Bing Crosby, who sang, "I'll be home for Christmas, if only in my dreams."
My aim in writing this devotional is to help us all to think a little more about including others in our family celebrations, because the single most important factor in a successful family relationship is love. In 1 Corinthians 13:4a, Paul begins his description of love by writing, "Love is patient, love is kind" (NIV). Indeed, the entire chapter gives useful suggestions on how love can make the family succeed.
About twenty years ago, a mother, father, and five young children arrived at our church for the first time. After service, we invited them to come with us for our noon meal. At the table, the mother asked what her children should call us. I suggested "Grandma and Grandpa" like some others did. That week, she e-mailed me to say that that was the kindest gift that I could have given her children.
What I didn't know was that while the maternal grandparents were alive and loving, living in Vancouver, Canada, the paternal grandparents were dead. On a mission trip to Guatemala, the mother had met a bright young teacher from there, married, and had these five young children. However, her husband's mother had died giving birth to her son, and his father had died shortly thereafter, so these five young children grew up without paternal grandparents, until we, unknowingly, became the Guatemalan grandparents.
Some years later, the teenage daughter became friends with one of my son's daughters. After church one Sunday, I heard her call "Grandpa, Grandpa!" and she ran over for a morning hug. Her friend sidled up and said, "But he's my real Grandpa." My son's daughter was willing to share her Grandpa's love, but she wanted to keep the facts straight!
The ultimate successful family is the family of God, as expressed so beautifully in the song by Bill and Gloria Gaither:
- I'm so glad I'm a part of the family of God!
I've been washed in the fountain, cleansed by His blood.
Joint heirs with Jesus as we travel this sod,
For I'm part of the family, the family of God.
We all have opportunities to expand our family relationships. At this holiday time, may we all strive in love to make the connections more meaningful.
Prayer: God, help us to see opportunities to serve You by sharing Your love with others. May we invite our immediate family members to be closer, and extend that loving relationship to others. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.