I took my seat in the middle of the 3rd pew in the center aisle as usual this Sunday morning. It had been 2 weeks since my last time in church, but I made them aware of my impending disappearances before I left island. I saw the Pastor’s wife when she took her position in front and when she turned and spotted me in my usual spot. She smiled and said, “Well, hello stranger! Welcome back to St. Thomas!” Then she told me that the pastor had asked where I was. He acknowledged that he had not seen me and wanted to speak with me about something…
This simple acknowledgement of my absence and delight in my presence is something that has been a long time coming. My heart rejoices to know that although I’m far away from my family and friends, God has led me to a church filled with new “family” who are genuinely concerned about my wellbeing. This is something that I haven’t felt since I left Hopewell Missionary Baptist Church when I moved from Carbondale, Illinois in August 2011. This past Christmas my mom was here and we spent quite a lot of time with my pastors and church family. The love and sincerity that they showed to her while she was here allows her to rest a little easier because she knows that I have family here on island.
The word FAMILY refers to a basic social group consisting of parents and their children, whether living together or not. This also includes all of the decendants of a common ancestor. But for me, family has been the people who genuinely care about and love me. The people who desire to see God’s good deeds in my life. The people who give me guidance and direction based on the Word of God. The people who may say things that I don’t like, even though they know I need to hear it in that moment. The people who call me out when I’m making unwise decision even trig those decisions may be pleasing to the flesh.
So my FAMILY is extended to my friends and church family. These are people who are all of the decendants of a common ancestor…Christ. People who have died to themselves and accepted Christ into their lives. These are the people who walk in & show the Love of God to others…to me…I’m thankful that every time I move, God brings people into my life who are FAMILY!