Spiritual Family and Thanksgiving

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Family is something everyone talks about this week, and keeps talking about as we get closer to Christmas. Many of us gathered around tables with family members and friends to celebrate Thanksgiving together and eat all. the. things.

People traveled to be with families. Social media feeds were full of family photos and Christmas cards start showing up in the mail. Movies and advertising are full of images of families gathered around tables and Christmas trees.  It seems like the idea of family is everywhere at this time of year. #family #blessed

Don’t get me wrong – family can be pretty awesome. Sometimes the people who have known you since you were tiny are the ones really are the best people in your life.  

But sometimes they are . . . not.

Family isn’t easy for everyone. Here’s how I know: Alongside of the images of happy families with perfect turkeys this week online were articles with titles like these:

  • 10 Tips for Surviving Thanksgiving with a Dysfunctional Family
  • How to Survive Thanksgiving Drama with this Smart Conflict-Management Strategy
  • How to Avoid a Family Disaster at Thanksgiving: Plan for a Holiday that is just “so-so”
  • Everyone at Thanksgiving Doing Chore to Get Away from Rest of Family

So being around a table with family isn’t easy for everyone. 

Families can be difficult. Disagreements and past hurts come up. Members of the family may not feel loved or accepted. Too much turkey (and in some cases too much wine) can fuel heated debates over pie.  If you heard those article titles and thought that might have been helpful to read, or realized you actually read one of them preparing for your Thanksgiving this year: take heart. Because today’s teaching might surprise you.

When we say we are going to talk about family in church, we often associate Christian teachings with perfect, happy, nuclear families. We think all the church has to say about family is a specific idea of what family looks like, and how wonderful that is. But it turns out, even Jesus had some family trouble of his own.

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