Hello again!  Thanks for coming back.  Got your coffee or tea?  A comfy spot to read?  Okay, let’s go!

Growing up in the 60’s and 70’s, my dad was a successful contractor.  Mom was a stay at home mom.   We were decidedly middle class, with a couple of cars, a couple of kids and a dog.  We lived in a suburban neighborhood, sheltered by a white brick house that daddy designed and a builder friend constructed.  You could set your watch by Daddy coming home and dinner being on the table at exactly 5 o’clock every night.  Every Sunday, the four of us drove an hour to my grandparents’ farm for the day.  Every year, we took a two-week car trip vacation.  We ventured no further west than Colorado, no further east than Missouri; but we went all the way from Winnipeg, Alberta, Canada to Corpus Christi, Texas,  and the Gulf of Mexico.  Most of those trips involved visiting relatives someplace along the way.

Our in-town extended family of about 40 people celebrated everything remotely resembling a holiday, and a lot of birthdays.  There was at least one holiday a month and we all gathered at somebody’s house to celebrate it.  Even in August, we found a reason to gather, I suppose before school started.  At Halloween, it was common to hit all the grandparents and aunts and uncles in town while it was still daylight, so they could see the costumes and spoil us rotten.  And on Christmas – oh Christmas!  We had THREE separate gatherings!   We always had Christmas Eve at our house with mountains of gifts.  Mom always fixed her famous brisket.  Christmas morning was for the immediate families in their respective homes.  Later on Christmas Day, we all had dinner at my Aunt’s house, complete with a turkey and noodles.  Any time we gathered at my aunt’s house, we always played Bingo, and the prizes always included the ‘white elephant candle’ – a hideous orange and tan striped thing that sort of looked like a four turreted castle.  There was warmth and laughter, comfort and security in that large family of grandparents, aunts and uncles and cousins, in-laws and a few ‘outlaws’.

I miss those times.  As all of us kids grew up and started our own families, the units split off with their own kids and grandkids.  The older generation is gone now.  Funny, now that I think of it, I suppose I’m the older generation.  :-0   But something else happened as the years passed.  I sort of lost touch with a lot of my family, even though they are all here in town.  This was partly because I married a man who demanded attendance at every organized religious service, which meant we missed every family function held on Sunday evenings for 20 years.  Don’t get me wrong, I totally believe in commitment to God’s house;  I firmly believe in honoring the sabbath.  But, I also believe in family and gathering together.  If you don’t gather, you lose touch.  If you lose touch, you can become isolated.  And when you become isolated, well, you’re vulnerable and unprotected in some ways.  And when (not if!) something happens, you have no one to help with sorrow or grief; conversely, joys are diminished without people to share them.

God’s family is like that, too.  Hebrews 10:25 tell us not to forsake gathering together.  We need to gather frequently with our church friends and family to stay in touch, to share our lives and to keep the bonds strong.  You can’t do that just on Sunday mornings, staring at the back of the head in the pew in front of you.  We need to be involved someplace – being an active part of a small group that meets regularly.  We need to be friends and do things together outside the church walls.  I have friends who meet for lunch, who meet for a crochet group, or meet for dinner, so we can sort of keep up with each other’s lives.   Sometimes we simply run errands together.  A Wal-Mart or feed store run  has fostered more than one really good prayer and fellowship time!  And don’t get me started with JoAnn’s or Hobby Lobby runs!  Facebook alone or Twitter will not do the job; it helps keep us current, but is no substitute for face to face, voice to voice sharing of our lives and hearts.  Besides, I can’t get or give a hug on Facebook!

What sort of things can you do to get more connected with your families- your natural family, or your church family?  Who can you call and have coffee, or run errands, or maybe just help with a need?  It’s hard to make the time in our busy society, but the rewards are so rich.  Family.  It’s important!






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