Jesus was teaching and the crowd of curious and eager listeners was growing. With Him were His traveling companions – the Twelve (His students), and some women whom He had healed from various diseases and evil spirits.
Apparently, once healed, these women did not wish to leave His side. So they traveled with Him and His disciples, taking care of their need for food, drink and shelter. Supporting them by sharing from their abundance (or in some cases, from the abundance of their husbands and families).
As the crowd pressed in to hear the Rabbi’s words, “Jesus’ mother and brothers came to see him, but they were not able to get near him because of the crowd. Someone told him, ‘Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to see you.’ He replied, ‘My mother and brothers are those who hear God’s word and put it into practice.’” (Luke 8:19-21)
Words which have always given me pause.
Maybe even making me cringe a bit.
I’ve read these words many times and I’ve always felt that Jesus was being awfully harsh, dismissing His flesh-and-blood family in such a way. I imagine myself as His mother or sister, having traveled here to see Him – perhaps to deliver family news or to make sure that everything is well with Him – only to find that I am no more important to Jesus than this gathering of strangers seems to be.
These words of Jesus have carried a sting that I have never understood. Or tried to understand.
Today my family celebrated Thanksgiving. Yes, Thanksgiving. In April.
I came home early from work to put the turkey in the roaster.
Dallas peeled potatoes and mashed them up the way our kids like them best and made gravy from scratch because that’s just what his Mom always does for Thanksgiving.
And then our family arrived.
Michael & Caleb bring a tub of rainbow jello, and we talk about Easter baskets and arcade games and visits from family out-of-state.
Paul brings pans of his original green bean casserole – the spicy version and the mild rendition – and we readily play guinea pigs because we can.
Marlena’s in her slippers and Maddie is showing off her Easter toy. Abby has a field trip tomorrow and has to get up early, so it’ll be an uncharacteristically early departure after dinner tonight.
Brian’s arms are full of pie and a mammoth tub of ice cream, and once these have been set on the counter, his arms are full of warm hugs for everyone.
Penny’s heart is full of concern for her children. She wears her heart on her sleeve and we love this about her.
Alan comes in – it’s a treat that he’s here! – carrying a pan of homemade cornbread stuffing and sweet corn casserole, hot out of the oven and smelling divine.
Rachel makes a bee-line for the kids in the family room and Carol makes her way into the kitchen, tired from a busy day of tending to her family’s needs (but smiling because being here is part of the tending).
Greg, as always, brings a story to the table and Joffrey brings hands that need washing to our family’s prayer circle, in the middle of the kitchen, where the aromas of this Thanksgiving meal (now assembled) are irresistible to this hungry crowd.
Britton smiles across the table as another funny story is shared, and we celebrate yet another year gone by as mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters and children in one family, knit together by the hearing of God’s Word and the often feeble (but always honest) attempts at putting it into practice.
Blood relatives we are not.
But family we ARE.
I wish you could see what it is that I see when I look around the table at these faces.
It’s Jesus’ words come to life in a way that words on a page can never do.
It’s a springtime Thanksgiving for which all I can say is…