JUNE 22, 2018

Family Reunions

Dear Church,

I didn’t grow up with my cousins around.  It wasn’t because of some family rift, just that five of them lived two hours away in Battle Creek, three of them lived three hours away in the Detroit area and two of them lived twelve hours away in Philadelphia.  So, I grew up seeing them a handful of times a year at the most. Sarah grew up quite the opposite. Every one of her cousins lived within ten miles of each other and they got together every Sunday at her Grandma and Grandpa’s (both sides – one in the morning and the other at night).  Now, with our family getting to the age where there are more cousins for them to know, we find ourselves trying to find time for cousins and to get together even though we live hours away from them.

All of which is to say I look forward to this weekend all year long.  This is the annual Brink’s Family Golf Outing.  A tradition that started eight years ago when my Grandpa Brinks turned eighty and his three sons and all the grandsons got together to play golf for two days.  All three of my uncles are really good golfers and so are a few of my cousins. The Waterstone boys – not so much. Thankfully, this is just a scramble when we can get together to catch up on another year.  As the grandkids have grown and married, we have included in-laws and this year my son Willem will be playing for the first time.  He tees off from 150 yards out on par fours and 200 yards out on par fives, so he will be a very good addition…on my team.  So, this year we’ll have four generations teeing off as Grandpa has graduated now, at 88 years old, to being part of what he calls, “The Rider Cup.”  Get it? (He’ll be riding along in a cart and reading the greens for our putts).  He finds his humor hysterical.  Most of the time, I don’t get itJ

I miss my brothers.  My brother Kyle lives in Los Angeles and I see him maybe three times a year. My brother Mark lives in Sanborn, IA, so far off the grid you need to drive seventy miles to get to the nearest Target.  I see him once a year.  Kyle and Mark haven’t seen each other since my brother Kyle’s wedding nearly three years ago.  I’m looking forward to telling stories, laughing at the same jokes, teasing each other for terrible golf shots and going nuts when one of them “snakes in a 15-footer.”  When we first started this tradition, I felt like I was still one of the kids.  While I’m the oldest grandchild in the family and have always been the planner of the event, for some reason I always felt like I was still in high school.  This year, with Willem playing, my brother Mark bringing his nearly one-year-old son Simon, and Kyle’s wife, Ashley pregnant with their first child in November, I’m reminded that I’m not so young anymore and that time absolutely flies by.

My guess is that you too have wonderful family traditions.  Outside of our salvation in Jesus Christ, family is perhaps the greatest gift God has given to us.  We cherish the times together.  We mark the passage of time in additions and subtractions.  We re-tell the same stories and laugh at the same jokes.  Still, family is also a source of great pain, loss, and sorrow.  No matter how perfect we may look on the outside, all families have “stuff.”  All families experience tragic death, painful divorce, and unthinkable health challenges.  All families have at least one “black sheep,” and if you don’t think so, then most likely, you are the “black sheep.”  Ever since the very first family in the Bible, there has been love smeared with hate, joy marred by pain and laughter mixed with tears.  

Family is often at the very center of our prayer life. We pray for family members who need healing, or strength, or release, or employment, or you name it.  And while we should most definitely keep on praying for our families, perhaps this morning you could take your prayer into action. Give a call, send a text, compose an email to the family member you haven’t seen or connected with lately and just let them know you love them.

Grace & Peace,

Pastor Matt