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Our Family in Christ

September 14, 2017 No Comment

Rev. Dr. Glenn E. Schaeffer

by Glenn E. Schaeffer

Every congregation I have been a part of, whether as a lay member or pastor, has been my family. It was in the presence of my church family that my faith was born and confirmed. Over the years, it has been through my church family that the Spirit of the Lord has nurtured my faith in the triune God.

My church family is where I, and my wife and children, have been loved and accepted. Our church family are the people we have often wept and laughed with as we shared the lows and highs of their lives and our own. Our church family has been our “safe haven” where we have been able to have wounds mended and bruises healed. It is in relationship with our sisters and brothers in Christ that we receive and give; serve and are served; love and are loved.

It’s as family that we gather in worship to receive the bountiful gifts of our Father. It’s as family that we confess our sin (maybe even sins we have committed against one another) and forgive in the name of Jesus. It’s as family that we gather at our Lord’s Table to partake of a feast provided by our Brother. As family we pray for one another, sing with one another, and serve one another.

Yes, I love my church family. I have spent my life serving this family, but honestly, it is I whose life is richer, more meaningful, and purposeful because of how my Father has enriched my life through His Son and you, my sisters and brothers in Christ!

It’s as family that we gather in worship to receive the bountiful gifts of our Father. It’s as family that we confess our sin and forgive in the name of Jesus. It’s as family that we gather at our Lord’s Table to partake of a feast provided by our Brother. As family we pray for one another, sing with one another, and serve one another.

It saddens me to see generations of family members who have been baptized and confirmed no longer active members of the family; to see family members in conflict; to hear of family members suffering, alone. Our brother in the faith, St. Paul, reminds us, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers” (Galatians 6:9-10).

With so much discussion focused on the restructuring of the corporate nature of our institutional church and a new governance model, we may be tempted to forget that we are first and foremost, family—the family of God! Cherish those “family meals” when you gather with your brothers and sisters in Christ to be fed by your Father through His Word and the Eucharistic dinner! Reach out in love to those family members who were baptized and confirmed in your congregation, but who have distanced themselves from you. Invite them to come home. Pool your family resources, serving together in fraternal love, so that you can enrich the lives of others by serving them. Go and invite “orphans” to be your “siblings” by sharing Jesus’ love with them. Celebrate the inclusion of adopted sisters and brothers into God’s family, many of whom will be baptized as adults, children, or infants. And, live with the anticipation and excitement of that grand family reunion that awaits us in our heavenly home!

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Rev. Dr. Glenn E. Schaeffer is President of the Alberta-British Columbia District of Lutheran Church–Canada.