December 16, 2005

Family a Pain? Try Something Else.

Well here we are standing on the threshold of yet another Christmas celebration. Tomorrow night, some will go to their regular place of worship to sing familiar songs from childhood; some will attend church for the second time this year; the first was Easter…some will travel to grandparent’s homes to be with extended family and some will spend the night with the in-laws so that Christmas dinner can be spent with the other set of parents—guilt-free--splitting the special time 50-50.

Sometimes, family can be one huge distraction from the reason for the season. What should be a celebration of the coming of the One who brought Peace on Earth Goodwill Toward Men, are the perennial battles of kith and kin trying to remember who is not speaking to whom, who hosted last year, who will host next year, and assorted other petty arguments about anything and nothing. Christmas becomes one endurance run and all because someone, somewhere, somehow established that merely on the basis of “We’re family and families get together on the holidays” and even though it is always bickering and fighting, the blood tie trumps everything else.

I have news for you today, “Where is it written that some kind of blood tie gives anyone the right to annually run their sibling, their son or daughter, mother or father into the ground? Blood is thicker than water is something dysfunctional families like to recite to insure they have someone to trash at the next family outing.

For most of our adult lives, my wife and I have lived too far away from any family for the routine problems and expectations to be routine. And we actually have very healthy, very normal families. Our spatial separation was not to escape but was the outcome of following the Lord to wherever He leads. I’m sure my wife missed being near to family more than me but the distance enabled us to be our own family with our own traditions. That was a good thing.

But some of you listening this morning are dreading the next two days. Is uncle so and so going to be there? Is Dad going to be sober? Is my brother going to pick a fight with my husband--again? Oh happy day. Listen you don’t have to put up with that! Jesus doesn’t require anyone to be a punching bag for someone even if they are family. So if this is at all familiar, make other plans this year. Come to the Prince of Peace with integrity, peace and joy.


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