Updated: Dec 23, 2019
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Sitting in front of my Christmas tree with my dogs nearby, candles aflame and holiday instrumental music playing . . . thinking of some of my recent impressions. Impressions that matter.
Impressions that are profound because they
all bear one thing in common.
I take you to a cross-country flight on which I worked pretty much the whole time and kept to myself on a Friday. To be honest, I felt a nudge to talk to the young man next to me, but A) he was able to string together a couple hours of sleep (but I was not jealous), and B) I was tired, plus I had work to do. Nonetheless I noticed the 'spiritual' book he was reading and thought to engage him in the last leg of the flight to New York en route to Israel.
'Hey, what do you think of this?' I asked and gestured to my laptop which had the C.S. Lewis quote-- It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one or other of these destinations. It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no ordinary people. From The Weight of Glory.
'Wow, that's good. Do you mind if I take a picture of it?' From there, we were off - talking about his stint in the Marines, now forging his way in the area of financial advising, talking about life, love, faith, God and family. In my humble opinion, all are intertwined. God meant us to have all of those - life, love, relationship with him, and family.
Then that Sunday morning (it was November 10), I was thankful to once again be worshipping at the Brooklyn Tabernacle - full of love, full of the Holy Spirit and song, the Word of God boldly preached. From my seat, I could see a young man who was overwrought; as the choir sang, he wiped tears from his eyes, though I could still see the eye shadow he had worn the night before. It ripped my heart out watching him. I waited and prayed - eventually getting up to slide in the seat next to him. When the worship music started, so again did his tears. I put my arm around him and he snuggled in, his friend not seeming to mind; he too needed an affirming touch on his shoulder. Turns out, after a wee bit of conversation at service end, Marcelo was visiting from Brazil and did not really even understand much English, yet . . . he was so moved by the feeling he sensed in the presence of the Holy Spirit in the words, the music, the love. We hugged again. And again. That's because God means us to have life, love, relationship with him and family.
Sunday afternoon two dozen passengers boarded an airplane and then rendezvoused with others in Tel Aviv for an eight-day journey to the heart of God in the land he promised his children. It was my privilege to ride the bus with these from Oklahoma, Texas, Mississippi and Southern California (wait, what?), to break open the Word of God in the land which inspired it, and break bread on the same territory on which our Savior told us to remember him-to walk where he walked, sail on the same Sea of Galilee. From my vantage point, I watched as folks who were very different became family. As for me, those 29 will forever be part of my anatomical fabric. That's because God means us to have life, love, relationship with him and family.
And then I boarded a flight in Newark to make my way west (yes, the travel home was brutal), feeling totally bedraggled and looking worse. Just two of us were on our left-loaded seats and at that point, after a last full day in Israel, dinner and a long evening, an international flight and another couple hours in Customs, etc., all I wanted was a side of crispy bacon, an apple fritter and my pillow. After exchanging a cordial word or two with my seatmate, I put in my headphones but couldn't help hearing him singing. Singing? Yes. Totally singing. Wait - it gets better. He was singing Elvis. My new friend Jeff is an Elvis impersonator, just for fun. And here is what I learned about Jeff from Tennessee - he is after living life well, love, maybe relationship with God? (how to do that anyway?) and family.
Here's what I know: God is for us. He created us for an abundant life, an overflowing love, relationship with him and family. Maybe your family is haywire; then again, maybe your family is pertnear perfect. Doesn't matter - you need to dive in, find connection with the family of God - those who love Jesus and want to live this life, full out, wide open, on purpose for him. You see, we are only partially alive without connection with this family. That's why the writer of Hebrews said
we are not to give up the habit of meeting together Hebrews 10.25
See, some folks have decided 'church don't matter' - but keeping the Sabbath does.
'Goin' to church don' make me a Christian' - for sure, but if you love Jesus, then there ought to be a love in your heart for others who love him.
'Cause that's the family of God - the family that will be together for eternity.
We. Are. Family.
Merry Christmas, Family~