"Unity without verity is no better than conspiracy." - John Trapp

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Thankful on Thursday - Family (I)

This past weekend was our annual family reunion. When I was growing up we had this on or around the Fourth of July, but you don't always get a long weekend with that holiday, so we tried Memorial Day weekend but settled on Labor Day weekend several years back. The reunion used to take place in Tennessee every year (my parents were from there), but as about half the family was living in Indiana we decided to alternate. This actually occurred long before the move to Labor Day weekend.

This is primarily my Mom's family (the picture is my maternal grandparents, who started the reunion), though a fair number of Dad's family attend as well. In the days when most of my parent's generation were still living, and my generation was grown with families of there own, we had reunions of nearly 200 people. This year we only had 80-100. Death, that last enemy, has claimed a large number of my parents generation, including my parents, and the following generation has started to scatter. One might wonder how long we can continue to hold this reunion.

However, when Grandpa died (about 2 years after Grandma) a young, foolish boy said in earshot of his Uncle G (Warren G, as in Harding) that he figured the reunions were over. He was told that the reunions would continue as long as Uncle G was able to have them. True to that word, until recently, Uncle G has made sure that the reunions in Tennessee were held. That was over 30 years ago. In Indiana, my parents played that role, until the torch was passed to my brothers, sister, and I. Along with one of my nephews, we have continued to have the reunions in Indiana on the even years. Only once in that time did we not have the reunion, in 1999 when we found out shortly before Labor Day that Dad's cancer had returned and the prognosis was not good.

I know my roots are in a Southern culture that put a high stock in family. This is in stark contrast to a modern society doesn't see the family having as high a value anymore. But this is God's first human institution. Before the nation, even before the church. Our first obligations, on the vertical plane, are to parents and family (Ex. 20:12; 1 Tim. 5:8).

My family is not unique, at least not in a way that makes us better than the rest of society. We reflect the sins of our society. But these are my kin, and I thank God for being a part of this large family, linked by the marriage of James and Sarah, who raised five sinful children - and loved them all. Our circle is too big, I fear, to be unbroken, but I pray that those who are missing are few.

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