I have been in a pastoral role, for almost 60 years and my observation after preaching in churches large and small in many nations of the world is that the church is at its best, when it functions like family.
Being from a large family, we were 18 cousins and 5 sets of uncles and aunts. We watched family members go off to war only to come marching home with PTSD. I have not even included second and third cousins who also were a very important part of the family.
As you might imagine, we were never without drama.
This is a memory from my childhood.
Aunt Florene was married to Elec Montgomery and had two children a girl and a boy. Uncle Elec, was killed in a car wreck and my cousin Bobby was with him in the wreck and was burned over 80 % of his body. I remember going to the Shriners Burn Institute in Dallas to see him, when he was having a skin transplant. My uncle Elsworth literally gave him the skin off his back. He lost toes that were severely burned, off one of his feet, which was the result of the car running into a bridge barrier with his clothing on fire he jumped from the car and removed his burning pants and shirt, exposing himself to oncoming cars, when he saw them coming he pulled the burning pants back on. The fiery wreck impaired his legs so much that he walked with a limp the rest of his life.
Aunt Florene married again later on and had another son. Large families always have more drama to deal with than smaller families because of greater exposure to life. We saw death and we saw heartbreak up close and personal.
My cousin Leland, fell off a pick up truck while picking cotton with a group of his friends and as a result, he was in a coma for 8 days before he recovered only to have to go through a long rehabilitation that left him with a limp, which he never recovered from.
We saw marriage, divorce and remarriage, others taken from the family after long hard battles with cancer, loved ones taken from us at an early ages (like my father), We saw the agony of defeat and the thrill of victories in others accomplishments. One of the amazing things, which ran through our family, was faith in God. I am sure is the common denominator which keeps families together. “Knowing that all things work together for good” is a part of the DNA of the family of God and it was a major part of our family.
As a child, I was keenly aware of the call of God on my life but little did I know how much my families value system would play a part in the choices I would make in the future. When you are a part of a church family the same things happen in your life as have taken place in mine by many converging influences. Having had missionaries and ministers as part of our extended family, I can never remember a time when I did not hear them telling their stories of faith. I could not escape their conversations and honestly did not want to. I was listening when they did not know, I was listening and they were anointed even when they were talking to one another about God. The church has always been a part of my life and you may ask has there been drama, has there been disappointment, has there been times when I had to take a deep breath to clear my thinking, has there been times I have had to pray through situations and drama my own as well in the lives of those I serve? The answer of course is; Yes, but I would never wanted to have lived my life apart from my friends and church family. They were always there when my family needed them.
Yours for End Time Harvest,
Pastor Cleddie and GayNell