What’s Needed?

I remember one particularly disturbing family dinner from years ago, when our kids were much younger. Not that it was disturbing to me. No, I was fine. It was the kids who were bothered. They couldn’t sit still. They kept turning away from their plates, twisting around in their chairs, and looking across the room behind them. They were utterly obsessed with and perplexed by something over on the couch.
It was me. I wasn’t in my normal place at the dinner table. I can’t even recall what I was doing or why I skipped the family meal that evening. Some project for work or school, no doubt. Precisely why I was on the couch wasn’t the problem. I wasn’t even carrying on or making noise. It was the simple fact that I wasn’t in my place at the table that had my kids all confused and restless.  In my kids’ minds, the problem was obvious: family meals meant that everyone should be in his or her place around the table. Of course, Aundrea and I had never come right out and said that to our children. They had simply intuited it from the way things always were.
Not far from where I was sitting on the couch that day was a huge picture window, looking out over our front yard, the sidewalk, and the suburban street beyond. While the kids squirmed and I sat, several neighbors strolled by, in full view of the dining room table. But none of the kids seemed to notice them. It wasn’t a problem that those people had not joined us for dinner around the table. They were not part of us. We were a family. Gathering for the evening meal was just what families do. For one member of the family not to join the gathering was confusing, weird, wrong.
Next Sunday afternoon (Jan 31) at 3:30, we as a church will have a family gathering. We’ll review specific forms of God’s grace among us over the last year. We’ll conduct some family business. We’ll get a vision for what might be coming for our family in 2021. We’ll meet online instead of in person because, of course, one of the biggest features of church life in 2020 was the ongoing impact of COVID-19.
This is just what families do. So don’t stroll by outside or stay over there by yourself. Please join us. We’ll all feel really weird if you don’t.