Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite holidays. Not only is there turkey, dressing, and my Mom’s famous hot fudge sauce but it has always been a time for my brother and his family to gather with my family and parents.
The focal point for these gatherings were always the “friendly” games that were played…Hearts when we had to be inside… led by my Dad = the king of Hearts= who quietly plotted and pounced when you weren’t paying attention. But the “real deal” we all anticipated and prepared for were the annual outside games. We started with soccer when our kids were little because they were all on teams. The adults (Fearless Fossils) against the 5 cousins (the Cousin Comets)…(yes there were even t-shirts made!) Once they could really trounce us/we realized we were investing in way too much Ibuprofen after these games…we evolved to playing volleyball! Memories of these match-ups and the accompanying antics still assume mythic proportions in the retelling.
This year was the first year we were without any of the “usual” cousins, my kids and my brothers kids. However, we got to have my sister’s daughter and son and his girlfriend who usually went home to Wisconsin and had always missed these gatherings while they were growing up. This new family landscape meant the game would need to change again. 3 hours of Corn Hole later, accompanied by loads of laughter, my Mom remained the high scorer and each “team”, a mixture of different generations, had had their time in the lead!
Reflecting on this past weekend, I see my family’s common journey together unfolding in new ways we hadn’t been able to predict. While it can’t be the “same” as it was for so many years, these new memories created just a few days ago reminded me that we can’t stop the seasons of our lives from unfolding with their inevitable changes to our patterns and traditions. But we can embrace the future with hope, joy, and love together as a family, ever growing and shrinking with the passing of time.
When I think of our church family, I feel the same way. Our beloved faith family is enriched by the diversity of life experiences that everyone brings with them, both longtime members and those new to First Church AND we are strengthened as a community and our relationships deepened by our shared common experiences.
Advent is upon us – the time of preparation, the time of waiting – the time of anticipation of the birth of Jesus, God’s gift of hope peace, joy, and love for all of humanity! This Advent I hope you will find ways to share in the experience of Advent as part of the community of First Church: by attending one of the special services: the Choir Cantata, Blue Christmas, Children’s Program, Candlelight services; or Gifts for Good; or caroling for our shut-ins, or the All Church Christmas Brunch.
In hope, peace, joy, and love…