Wow, what a day! It started at 3:15 am. I got up early to drive my daughter and her husband to the airport for a long-awaited trip to the Philippines. Much time, money and effort went into planning for it, including a postponement the year before. It's a homecoming of sorts for my daughter. After being gone for over four years, she would be introducing her husband to her extended family and friends in her hometown of 18 years.
After checking to make sure they had all their documents, bags, and giving some last-minute hugs and encouragement, I dropped them off. Excitement abounded!
I drove off looking forward to hearing from them after they arrived in the Philippines.
Before I got home I got a call. I heard my son-in-law's sad and dejected tone and I could hear my daughter's sobs in the background. Something had obviously gone wrong.
They couldn't board because of a snafu with his passport. It had taken several months for his clearance from the US Navy to travel to the Philippines. They saved money for months, planned, prepared, packed, and imagined their time there.
They were devastated. They had to cancel their tickets and accept a hefty penalty, just to recoup most of their money.
I ended up making three round trips to the airport between 4:00 and 11:00 am last Thursday. After countless calls to various offices to find a one-day passport renewal appointment, and a frantic search online for new tickets to the Philippines, they were on their way to the Philippines… sort of.
It's a much longer story, but here's the short of it. The passport was renewed, but the flight to the Philippines was a few days later. It wouldn't have been possible without the support of family here in Florida and in California, and even our extended family in the Philippines.
While my daughter and son-in-law were on the phone and online, I called family in California and communicated with our staff and extended family to make changes in arrangements on that side of the ocean.
It Takes a Family to be a Family How important is family? It's impossible to measure. Families are vital. They are the fabric and strength of any culture. Well, they can be, and we need them to be so.
All this got me thinking about extended family and God's intentional design and purpose for a family. His kingdom on earth is to be one expansive, extended family. A support network, if you will, of many families. A community of families.
Whether you call a group of families a community, a tribe, a people group, or a nation, it describes an identity. Not a persona, but a sense of belonging.
Inherent within a family, no matter how extended, is a sense of responsibility towards one another. It is a sense of interdependence rather than obligation, although it may seem like obligation at times. And it may appear that some family members are more responsible than others.
Interdependence OK, it isn't perfect, but this imperfection is part of the beauty and strength of family, and however the family extends out as a community. This is the picture of the early church.
I've heard teachings and debates on how to create the "true New Testament church," but it's pretty much just talk. The early church was God's design and it was built around interdependence.
Think about the early church members (followers of Jesus). They were outcasts within their Jewish community. Their nation was occupied by the Roman Empire. They had no one to go to but one another. That's interdependence.
People say they want community. They may try to find it on Facebook or at Starbucks, or some local gathering place. Many talk of creating community within a local church. It's both a perceived and felt need, but how to get there?
Interdependence, not independence. We Americans are good at the second. But the first? Not so much. OK, in times of crisis we rally to one another, but must there always be a crisis to make it happen?
If you want community, a sense of extended family, then interdependence needs to be a choice, not a last option.
What are your best experiences with extended family and community? I believe these far outweigh the not-so-best experiences, and are well worth the investment.
What are your thoughts on this?
All the believers kept meeting together, and they shared everything with each other. From time to time, they sold their property and other possessions and distributed the money to anyone who needed it. The believers had a single purpose and went to the temple every day. They were joyful and humble as they ate at each other’s homes and shared their food. At the same time, they praised God and had the good will of all the people. Every day the Lord saved people, and they were added to the group.
(Acts 2:44-47 GW)