25 Days of Advent - FAMILY

FAMILY by Jim Yoder

This Christmas season, the word FAMILY activates many different images, associations and dimensions for me.

Historically for me, the combination of Christmas and family is a package deal, intrinsically intertwined. It generates memories of joyous, extended family gatherings; a festive time with kin who share a genetic history. My experience in those settings is synonymous with relaxing; a sense of safety and acceptance and knowing the others and being known.

As I reflect on those memories, I’m acutely aware that not everyone resonates with my memories and experiences; there are some who did/do not have family and some who had/have families where trauma, chaos and abuse were/are the norm. That profoundly saddens me and I pray for peace and comfort for those who’ve had those experiences.

I’m also aware that I have had the luxury of being a part of many different families. My earliest memories are of my biological family with my father, mother and brother and sister and then also the extended families from each of my parents. I’ve also been blessed to have a family with Linda, with our children, in laws and grandson. Additionally, during our time in Congo and in Haiti, the concept of family extended to other ex-patriots with whom we associated, providing support and encouragement as a substitute for biological family contact and comfort.

I’ve also had the privilege of being a part of a church family in a number of different locations. My current involvement with MPUMC has been very gratifying, as it has provided me with support, encouragement, acceptance and love, all of which are the ideal functions of a family.

And finally, and most importantly, I have the comfort of knowing that I am a part of the family of God and that I am identified as one of God’s children.

This Christmas season, I am grateful for all the varied family groupings that have been a part of my life. I pray that you may experience the warmth and acceptance of family and especially, the comfort of being a part of God’s family.

READ: 1 John 4:17-21

"This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

We love because he first loved us. Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister."

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