My Italian grandmother was part of a very large family. With 17 brothers and sisters, she never lacked for conversation or company. None of the children had their own bed, she remembered, and mealtimes were often more competitive than companionable.
Through it all, even when times were tough, the bond that kept the Leonardo family together was the enduring reality of their blood relationship to each other. Arguments might erupt; one sibling might refuse to talk with another for a week or even a year. But over time they learned a loyalty to each other that survived the bluster and the bruised feelings. United at first only by their common parentage, they grew to respect each other, cherish each other, and seek each other’s company.
I have fond memories of early-summer evenings at birthday celebrations and anniversaries, watching them on the front porch, alight with laughter, wit, and song. And I was proud to be a part of them—I still am proud to be a part of them—because we share an indelible set of memories and hopes.
You are also part of a very large family. With more than 17 million brothers and sisters all around the globe, you have been born again into a set of relationships intended to offer you both conversation and company on your way to the Father’s home.
Some family members live near you; and yes, sometimes those nearby relationships get strained by arguments, silence, or bruised feelings. Most of your family is spread all around the world, however. They worship in so many different ways; they sing in hundreds of different languages. But the most enduring family trait is that each one has been bought with the precious blood of our Elder Brother, Jesus. In His name we gather to celebrate the family’s history, bear the family’s sufferings, retell the family’s stories, and anticipate the joy to come.
Scripture says of Jesus that He was “not ashamed to call [us] brothers and sisters” (Heb. 2:11, NRSV).* He is proud to call us family—His own. Now would be a good time to reaffirm your own commitment to the wonderful, worldwide family of this great Advent movement.
*Bible texts credited to NRSV are from the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright © 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. Used by permission.