Welcome to the Family!
Last week, I had the honor of attending my Father in Law’s funeral. In his 93 years, he had been many things. But he insisted that he wanted to us to remember him for only two things: his family and that he tried to live his life the way Jesus wanted him to.
My husband remembered that my Father in Law started his day each morning the same way: he would rush around to go to work. He sat at the table to the breakfast his wife had waiting for him. He always began his day with the prayer ‘Bless us O Lord for these thy gifts which we are about to receive from thy bounty through Christ our Lord. And may everything I do today be for your glory.’
The way my Father in Law chose to meet the goal of that prayer was to be an open and loving person to everyone he met. He never had a bad word to say about anyone. He gave each person he encountered the benefit of the doubt. And, nothing made him happier than welcoming new people into his family. He had a strong belief that there was always room for one more and that we were happier and better together than any one of us could be apart.
He truly lived by that belief. He was married to his wife for 63 years ("the most wonderful woman in the world who gave me my family!), he had 11 children, 30 grandchildren, and 19 (and counting!) great grand children. Now, you can imagine what life must have been like with 11 children in the house (and yes, there was period of time when all 11 lived at home). And he always made room for friends and more family.
The day he met my son and I he hugged me. He would not let me go for a very long time, saying repeatedly “Thank God you are here.” He called my son his “30th Grandchild”. It did not matter to him how we ended up around his table. What mattered is that we made it, we were there, and Thank God for that!
It is the example of people like my Father in Law that I believe is what Jesus is calling us all to be. This is the potential that we can all reach. I am grateful that I have a Church to turn to and to help me continue to remember, to glorify, and to worship so that I can continue to move forward in my personal growth.
My Father in Law will always serve to remind me that that a person’s existence is a gift from God. We all belong somewhere. When Jesus calls a person to enter our lives, and our Church, we are called in turn to welcome them. A smile, a handshake, and a “thank God you’re here” lifts us all up to what Jesus is calling us to be.
I know that I am so grateful to Jesus for putting my husband in my path so that I would meet my Father in Law and his large, loud, diverse family. I believe that I’m becoming a better person for it. I can only hope that I am able to welcome and love everyone I meet nearly as generously as my Father in Law did.
Yours In Christ,
Karen Rodgers, Vestry Member