This week my husband and I are back in the Chicago area, where we both grew up. We’re enjoying a few days with his family first, and then mine. Both of us are from large families; I’m #1 of seven children, he’s #3 of six. Most of our siblings have children, and some have their own grandkids, which means a lot of people when we gather.
There are no intentional, earth-shaking conversations, but important conversations happen while we’re just hanging out with each other. They’re important because they solidify our connections with each other. In our families, there’s fun too. Different kinds of fun, since our family cultures are quite different. In my husband’s family, we enjoy “the littles,” being their charming toddler selves when they have sufficient sleep and food. (And we give grace when they’re not so charming because they need a nap or a snack.) One of the things my family is looking forward to is a gig where my brother’s terrific band is playing. He’s a marvelous keyboardist and entertainer, and they cover other people’s songs. It’s fun to clap and sing and watch Brother Bill bounce and sway at the piano with an enormous amount of energy, rejoicing at the way he displays his giftings. The reason we came up here is for a family reunion fueled by Facebook connections. Some of us have reconnected online, and it will be good to spend time face to face as adults for the first time. Others of us only see each other every few years at a wedding or funeral, and it will be such a blessing to just gather together simply to be together. Family connections are different from any other. Blood relatives share genes and family history that have their own special kind of bonds. Cousins can enjoy a unique connection with each other that goes beyond same-age friends. So often, God gives us earthbound experiences and illustrations to help us understand spiritual truths. When I think of the biblical injunction to “forsake not the assembling of yourselves together, as is the habit of some” (Heb. 10:25), I think about how God wants us to connect with and enjoy our spiritual family the way we can enjoy our physical families. When we hang out with our spiritual family, important conversations can happen simply because we’re together. There is fun to be had in these families, especially when people exercise the gifts God gave them. There is certainly a different depth of connection with our spiritual family. We are blood relatives, because we are bound together by the blood of the Lord Jesus, Who bought us for Himself. We share spiritual DNA and the privilege of being family as well as friends. And, at least in the cultures I am aware of, anywhere in the world, where the spiritual family gathers, there is always food. When we gather together, we should always remember why we are family, Whose family we are, and invite Him to the party. We can and should always remember the Lord whenever we break bread together, even if the bread is hot dog buns!