At my family gathering later today, there will be the possibility of having five pastors in the same room at the same time. Although it solves the problem of who is going to say the prayer for the meal… it has… shall we say other interesting moments. Like when my brother-in-law asks me, “How was your Christmas?” Or my sister-in-law asks, “How have you been this year?” I have to decide, is he talking about Christmas at church or Christmas at home? Is she asking about how the church is going or how I’m doing? We get to both eventually, but can you see how it complicates things?
I’m usually the one who doesn’t really want to talk shop at family gatherings. Putting five of us together is a lot of church talk, even when one of us is retired. I imagine this is true at a lot of your family gatherings as well.
As I sit here with the deadline looming to get the vacuuming done…reading what I just wrote…I realize I have no idea how things are really going with the brother-in-law, who is not a pastor, whom I count myself close to, even though we have not talked since our nephew’s wedding last summer. We have little in common beyond being married to sisters...Our jobs have very little in common, and he likes the kind of bikes that have motors, which are beyond my understanding. So what will we talk about… how was the drive up….why the Vikings finished so miserably….hopefully anything but who did you vote for.
My strategy is to start somewhere that seems natural and see where the conversation goes. I hate it when someone comes up to me after dinner and says, “So how are you really doing, Dan.” First of all, right after dinner my blood is going to where it is needed most, digesting…not soul searching. I prefer someone to ask me how I liked the ham, and then maybe to talk about a few other things I like about my life right now.
This is a time of year to be attentive to the needs of others and not press. Some of us have not had very good years. Others of us are not sure. And my point is that is it never our job to force anyone to do the kind of soul-searching we think they may need. Sometimes it is just showing up…at these family gatherings and in life in general for the people we care for…that has the greatest and most needed impact.
Keep the Faith,