“So now you are no longer strangers and foreigners. You are citizens along with all of God’s holy people. You are members of God’s family.”
Yesterday I attended the funeral of my father-in-law. He had lived here near my family for a couple of years. Before that, he had been retired to the Alabama Coast for about 15 years. And before that, he had lived for over 30 years in Pennsylvania. So where would we have the funeral? There was no question. We were going home.
Home happens to be a very small town in south Alabama. And as the family gathered, coming from Pennsylvania, Florida, Maine, and so many other places, we all felt the familiarity of coming home. It might sound strange, but having been a member of the family for only 10 years, I didn’t know most of the people there. However, my 7-year-old son described the situation best when we arrived in the parking lot and he commented that this was “our church.”
After the service, our family gathered at the First Baptist Church. There, members had been busily working all morning to prepare lunch for us all, as well to provide a place for us to gather and reminisce. These kind-hearted people have done this on many occasions for our family, and we indeed consider this our family church.
I find it interesting that none of our generation have ever attended a service there. We knew none of the people serving us. However, that didn’t seem to matter. We are welcomed there and loved every time we step through the door. We are counseled by a pastor that only knows we are part of the family. We are fed and consoled by people that we have never met. What causes this?
I can think of a couple of reasons:
- They love Jesus, and therefore, love us. They are the church. We are the church. And we are called to love and help each other. That is a plausible explanation. But, probably closer to the point,
- We are family.
See all those folks ministering to us yesterday, they didn’t know us. But they knew Poppy. And they knew grandmother and grandaddy. And they knew the generations of Johnsons that have come before us. So when we show up, we are not strangers. We are family. And therefore, they love us.
I dare say, the elder members of our family didn’t realize the bonds they were forging in all those years of showing up, helping out, and supporting that community of faith. They just went about their daily lives, but were intentional in being an integral part of that church family. My husband’s grandmother once told me she had been a member of the same Sunday school class for over 70 years. And I believe in those years, of serving together, praying for each other, and going through life together – family was forged.
And here we are today, my children call that place, “our church.” They already know that this is place where they can go to be loved and cared for. All because the blood of Jesus Christ has created something strong and unified there. It is a legacy that I am eternally grateful for.
I ask you, friends, what kind of legacy are you creating for your children? Think about it? When you are no longer in the picture, who will care and love your family without fail, just because of the relationships you have built? Are you creating a “family” for them that they can trust and run to if times get hard? It is a question worth asking for the sake of our future generations.
The enduring quality of the church is that it isn’t built on temporal promises. It is built on the foundation of Christ’s love for us. It goes on forever. And we are part of the family, not due to some random occurrence, but because His blood is thick enough to bind us all together for the long haul.
Shalom my friends.