Each year my mother’s side of the family gets together. This year there were 32 of us…I think. After we had gotten around the table, my great aunt, the eldest at the table in her 90’s, said “I am thankful that we are not a dysfunctional family” to which some conversation followed. Aunt Eskie revised her statement, “I am thankful that we can all put up with each other’s dysfunction.” We all happily accepted that amendment.
None of our families are perfect, and in the holiday seasons when we are thrown into close quarters, it is inevitable that even in the best of families, there were be frustrations, annoyances, and tongue biting. But God has not called us to be perfect families. He has called us to love others and show grace to each other. He has called us to show grace with each other’s dysfunction, and in so doing receive grace for our own shortcomings.
And when it comes to the church, we sometimes call ourselves a family. It is true that if this is what it means to be family: to love people in the midst of their faults and shortcomings, then maybe the family of God is a good metaphor for who the church is. Like any metaphor, it falls short of being perfect, but it starts to get at the heart of what it means to be together.
I feel blessed by my family to be with people who can live with each other’s dysfunction. I am thankful for the times when we get it right. I am thankful for the times when we get a second chance. I am thankful for not just my blood relatives, but also all those people who have put up with me just the same. And I pray that I will be faithful in doing the same.