By: Dan Vandewarker, Family Pastor This past March we had our second Family Training Day. The evening theme was “Making our home a place to belong.” We answered the question of “What does it mean as a family to create a safe place to be fully known and fully loved?” These are significant events not just because of the topic, but because they help clarify some starting points for us as families to better function as God intended. The evening was designed for anyone who has interaction with parents or kids, with the hope that as we better understand the needs of each other’s families we can better come alongside one another on a regular basis.
Belonging is universal. It is something that we all have a need and deeply long for, especially for the kids in our lives. To be fully known and fully loved means that we are always welcomed to simply be who we are as God’s children. There is no need to be overly ambitious or to be seen as successful in our occupations. As we belong, we don’t need to have the kids who are best dressed on Sunday mornings, we all have a seat at the table simply welcomed as we are. This need for belonging began in the Garden of Eden, where God created us to walk hand in hand with him naked and unashamed. And it’s a need that we try desperately to meet by working harder, when the work has already been done for us.
Belonging is controversial. To have a place where we can belong means that we are willing to offer shelter to a stranger. My two year old son is quickly developing his own personality, that is a unique combination of myself and his mother. After we wrestle him to sleep, have to convince him to get into the bath, or feed him dinner, the two of us often look at each other and ask the question “Who is this child?” It is not because we don’t deeply love him, but because with each stage of development he becomes a new person and we have to continue in the process of getting to know our beautiful little boy. This goes beyond our children as well, my wife is not the same person that I married six years ago and I am not the same husband. For better or worse, we are in it together, daily welcoming the stranger back into our home and life, and offering them a place where they can (hopefully) be fully known and fully loved.
Belonging is essential. Living in the reality of the resurrection we know that when we were in our darkest time of need, God sent his son to bring us grace, not just a little bit of it, but piles of it (John 1:16). It is essential for us to live in this grace, to breathe it in daily. It is this grace that reminds us we are part of a family, united by the death and resurrection of Christ. Author Frederick Buechner said it well, “The grace of God is something like: you might never have been, but you are because the party wouldn’t be complete without you.”
You are all invited to the party. The gift of family is a beautiful thing, and if you’ve been at Westminster for any extended period of time you know that we do family pretty good.
The next few blogs will be various recaps and summaries on what took place on this special evening.