November marks the start of family season. Trees sprout their vibrant reds and oranges, children’s painted handprints are turned into turkeys, and mouths begin to water at the anticipation of the pumpkin and apple pies that you can almost smell in the air right now.
Thanksgiving is somehow already right around the corner. And though Thanksgiving’s true history is much darker than the pilgrims in buckled hat images that come so easily to mind, it is a holiday that I appreciate.
This is a time when we get to spend time with our families, whether family means those we are related to by birth or by bond. We catch up, laugh, and enjoy good food together. This is a time when favorite family food dishes are prepared and shared. In the best situations, it is a time when people take off the masks they wear at work or in public, and share their lives and their stories with the people closest to them, the people with whom they belong.
And this is why I continuously give thanks for church families. The church is an interesting place; it is a place where people from all walks of life can come together. Homeless people can sit next to an affluent family who is sitting next to the single mother who is sitting next to the teenage high school drop out who is sitting next to a teacher who is sitting next to a retired judge who is sitting next to someone who got a speeding ticket two weeks prior, etc. And we all belong here.
The church is where very different people can come together because of a singular bond – the bond of being in a family. We are brought together because we know that each and every one of us is a child of God and that there is nothing that can separate us from the love of God.
When we gather together to worship, we do the same things we do at family holidays. We catch up with each other, we laugh, and we enjoy good food. But rather than turkey and mashed potatoes, we get to feast together in the most holy of meals every week when we stand before the altar and taste grace as we receive Christ’s body and blood.
And this holy and precious food sustains us in many ways, showing us that we are loved and forgiven, so that we may go out and be free to love and forgive those around us. We can be vulnerable and open with each other, and we can bring to light the things that trouble us in the dark because we are a family.
May we be bold enough to remember how deeply we belong in the family of God and the deep, enduring love that frees us to be our true and authentic selves. And may we be move forward thanking God for God’s goodness and the wonderful things that have been given to us.
Grace and peace,