A Family Christmas?
December 18, 2007
Christmas is an amazing time. At the risk of being trite, it’s a time to be with family, friends, to give of yourself for others, and unfortunately, to watch a butload of Christmas movies on the Hallmark Channel and eat enormous amounts of food.
But one thought I’ve had this season so far is, Who is my family?
At this point you’ll probably wonder if I’m okay, and would like some help or to be transported in an ambulance or by car, but I think it’s a fair question. Consider this: In the Bible, a man asks Jesus what the greatest commandment is. Jesus replies with the very famous verses on Loving God with everything and loving your neighbor as yourself. The man then asks, “Who is my neighbor?”
It’s really not a bad question. Let’s get specific Jesus. Let’s not deal with the general, let’s figure this thing out. Who in the world is my neighbor? Jesus, of course replies with the parable of the good Samaritan. You can find this story in Luke 10.
So this Christmas, because we all say that it’s about family and friends and neighors and peace and giving, I’d like to ask this question: Who is my family?
Come on, based on the “neighbor” story in Luke, this thing can’t just be about bloodlines and middle children and inheritance, and I want to know who my family is. Now please understand, I love my immediate family. My beautiful wife Carie is the most patient, caring, and sweet person who ever existed. My parents are amazing people who love God more than any people I know. My sister Amie has a great family, and when we talk, we talk like two people who are both living in cold tundras. (This is because I live in Massachusetts and she lives in Green Bay) My youngest sister Brooke works really hard in a home for troubled boys,and has such a huge heart.
My wife Carie and my nephew Philip
This is my immediate family. But is that it? This could get really depressing, really fast. Or perhaps there are others who could be considered part of the club. Perhaps, like the neighbor who lived in another country, my family members could branch out a bit to become less strictly defined.
I began thinking of this when I was a bachelor working at Fellowship Church in the early 2000’s. I was invited over to some friends house for Christmas morning, an invitation to which I accepted and had a great time. Afterwards, the family invited me over to their extended family’s house for more Christmas fun, only to be rebuked by the matriarch of the family for inviting a stranger over, and having their request denied to have me join them for their Family Christmas.
I hated that they were put in that position to tell me I couldn’t join them because…
I wasn’t in their family.
This Christmas, I ask the question, who is in your family? Is it just you and a few select others who are “special enough” to be allowed into your gatherings? Or would you extend the definition of family to allow others into your home for the holidays and for Christyear just as Jesus extended the definition of who my neighbor might be?
This could really be an excellent means for Discipleship. You see, when you bring someone into your circle, you allow them access to who you really are, and if that’s a good thing, then the good that is who you are should eventually transfer to them, especially (but not limited to) if you’re a good teacher.
So my challenge to you is to allow a new family member into your home or your celebration this Christmas, and if it gets vetoed by the king or queen, take your royal celebration somewhere else next year.
Until next time…