I just attended the funeral of an aunt I haven’t seen in years. It isn’t that she lived so far away or that we’d ever had a disagreement, or words or anything unkind. It was simply we allowed “life” to get in the way of a relationship as we both grew older. I’m sad about that even as I remember with much fondness the joy she brought me as a young child.
What was even more special was the “reunion” with cousins and other family I hadn’t seen in years. We chatted, embraced and promised to stay in touch. They reminded me I am part of a much larger extended family that I don’t see on my day-to-day basis.
I doubt my family is much different than most others. We have those we stay close to, sometimes from sheer proximity, but other times because the relationship was strong enough to sustain distances, and the desire to cultivate the relationship was greater than the consequence of not doing so.
One cousin attending had me mixed up with one of my siblings. Once we got that straight, I asked him about his. Obviously grieving, he said, "I don’t know. I haven’t seen my sister in twenty years, and my brothers don’t return phone calls even though I leave messages on the machine."
Why do we allow this to happen? I was overwhelmed with the love and affection from family I haven’t seen in so long! What keeps me from staying connected? Our days are getting shorter by the moment. Even the fact that we were all attending my aunt’s funeral should drive that home. We are mortals. We never know what day we will breathe our last. We deprive ourselves of relationships to people we have a blood connection to, yet we hold back and sometimes make excuses to avoid them.
Lineage was important to God. It was important enough to list them in the Bible. Not only is lineage important to The Lord, but family is grounded in all that is God! He made Eve for Adam, and joined them as one. Even out of the Garden of Eden family existed as they had children, grandchildren. God told Abraham he would be the leader of a great nation, as many as numbered the stars! This is family!
I commented to my son this morning, I didn’t realize or perhaps had forgotten that I meant anything at all to my extended family! How sad! Surely I’m not the only one who has felt this way! But feelings for another can be buried deep within us if we only see someone ten, twenty, or even thirty years in between connections.
This heart warming reunion, despite the reason for the reunion, reminded me how much I miss my extended family and how important they are to me. It also made me determined to stay connected much better than I have been.
We are only here a moment. Our lives have value to each other and we need to recognize that. This too, is part of the Christmas story! Jesus came as part of a family. He was son to Mary and Joseph and had many brothers and sisters!
I challenge you to remember families are important! Especially remember your family is important. Make memories this Christmas; hold each member close and make a deliberate attempt to stay connected all year long.