Monday, June 16, 2008

Who are my family members?

Father's Day inspired me to think of Jesus' definition of family. But I'll get back to that.

My father lives about five hours away, so I called him and we had a pretty long and very pleasant conversation. My mother answered the phone so I also talked to her for a few minutes before I chatted with Dad. My parents are great persons, outstanding parents, not to mention exemplary followers of Christ. I love them both dearly.

My youngest daughter, Amanda, who just graduated from high school last Saturday, had a card for me and she also gave me one of my favorite desserts for Father's Day. My stepson, Daniel, sent me a message wishing me a "happy Dad's Day." My other stepson, Patrick, is in Iraq right now so communication is a bit tougher in his case. Terri gave me a book that I wanted and prepared a special Father's Day meal for me on Saturday evening. My oldest daughter, Erica, lives 40 miles away and she sent me a sweet Father's Day message.

The gift I received from my 20-year old daughter, Alison, underscored a transition in our relationship. She got married to Heath Dosher on April 20 of this year. They invited me over for supper yesterday evening.

Terri and Amanda along with other members of our youth group left for a youth camp held at Wingate University right after church services yesterday and they will be gone all week. So Alison called as the youth were leaving and asked me to join she and Heath for an evening meal and I accepted.

These newlyweds live only six miles away. They grilled London broil, corn on the cob and potatoes. They also fried some chicken wings using a special batter recipe they had discovered. The food was great, but the fellowship was even better.

This was the first time Alison and Heath have invited me over for a meal in their home. It was most enjoyable but also a little strange. Oh, they made me feel right at home but Alison being married and preparing supper for me with her husband is new and different.

When I arrived Heath was at the grill and I went inside to find Alison busy in the kitchen. After greeting me she pointed out a gift bag saying that it was for me. Inside was a very sweet card and a wonderful gift.

A Styrofoam package in the bag contained a mug with eight photos of various family members made into its surface. The pictures were all taken at the wedding. Around the bottom of the mug was this message: "You're the Best Dad! I love you!"

I was touched.

A loving family is a glorious blessing and I hope I never take it lightly. But I never pass a Mother's Day or Father's day without remembering Jesus' definition of family that is far different than our typical understanding of the term.

While teaching in a very crowded house Jesus was told that his mother and brothers were outside. The Lord responded, "'Who are my mother and my brothers? ... Then he looked at those seated in a circle around him and said, 'Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does God's will is my brother and sister and mother.'" (Mark 3:33-34, TNIV).

I really appreciate the family expressions of love that were directed my way in connection with Father's Day. But the day left me wondering, as it always does, what our world would look like if we applied Jesus-style family values.

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