Unexpectedly Thankful

I’m the late-in-life, youngest son of an only son. My siblings did not have large numbers of children … and Sue and I had none. My parents are gone, my aunts and uncles are gone. Sue’s parents are still living, but her extended family is small, dwindling with age and miles away. Around the holidays, I remember large family gatherings that will never happen again this side of heaven. These thoughts could have produced a morbid cloud overshadowing the joy of the season … but they didn’t.  Instead, they set me up to be unexpectedly thankful!

This past Sunday, Sue and I arrived earlier than usual at church. There were still preparations to be made for the big Thanksgiving feed. I stood in the little kitchen and began mixing up one batch of instant stuffing after another. Slowly others started arriving. Debby came and started putting together her deviled eggs. I was intent on my task but threw greetings over my shoulder as I recognized the voice of each new arrival. As each new dish arrived, the room smelled more and more like Thanksgiving should. I mused … “I’m standing here bantering with Aunt Debby. Uncle Fletch is back there somewhere laughing and telling stories. Sister Adele and a dozen other cousins are pitching in to get the feast underway.” I realized, with a note of unexpected joy, that I felt at very much at home. The room was alive with the hum of … family.

After the service and after the meal, I gazed with wonder at a room filled with full tables filled with full, happy people. And I was full as well … not just my stomach, but my heart. I walked by each table and silently thanked God for my huge family. I realize I don’t know each one as well as I could … but that can be true with flesh and blood relatives. No one who finds a good church will ever be alone. I’m so thankful … grateful … and blessed.

Did you know this is Biblical? Paul writes instructions to the young pastor Timothy, so that his congregation will know “how people ought to conduct themselves in God’s household, which is the church of the living God.” (1 Timothy 3:15) He writes this wonderful news to the Ephesians, “you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the households of God.” (Ephesians 2:19)

We all got into this grand household through adoption. When we received Christ and believed on his name, God the Father gave us the right to become his sons and daughters. (John 1:12-13) Let’s live out the privileges of the family of faith according to Paul’s encouragement, “Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.“ (Romans 12:10-13)

So glad you’re here … welcome home!