“Family is the people God gives us to love.”
I can’t remember where I picked up that phrase. I think it might have been in a sermon I heard some years back, and I’ve since used it in a couple of my own sermons. It seems like a good way of encapsulating all the many and varied types of family, in a way which values them all equally.
Or, to put it another way, family is the people with whom we gather around the table. In the case of the “church family”, it’s the people who gather around the table for communion, the communion of saints. And that table is not ours to invite or not-invite people to – it’s God’s. Jesus invites all manner of people, and we may very well find ourselves in uncomfortable company. But we are invited, and they are invited (whoever ‘they’ may be). Like any family, there are tension and arguments and people storming out, but there’s also laughter and shared memories and – above all – love.
Whatever tables we gather around this Christmas, whatever family we share them with, may there always be space for the unseen guest, the one who is Love, who invites us all to his table.
This year for Advent Book Club we are reading “Unearthly Beauty” by Magdalen Smith. Join in on Facebook or Twitter using #AdventBookClub.