Like anyone on the wrong side of 50, I find myself attending more funerals the older I get. Last weekend, I paid my last respects to two members of the Hanson family. The matriarch, Aunt Peg, who lived more than a century and her son John who passed away suddenly in January. Death is never a reason to celebrate, but it does give family members a chance to come together, mourn and find a way to press on with the rest of their lives.
Therefore encourage (admonish, exhort) one another and edify (strengthen and build up) one another, just as you are doing. 12 Now also we beseech you, brethren, get to know those who labor among you [recognize them for what they are, acknowledge and appreciate and respect them all]—your leaders who are over you in the Lord and those who warn and kindly reprove and exhort you, 1 Thessalonians 5:11-12.
As a child, I was annoyed anytime I was forced to visit relatives at Thanksgiving and Christmas. As I became a teenager, I was skeptical about this annual tradition. Between the numbers of people cramped into one house and packed at a large dining room table, I found it hard to really get to know my cousins. Everything seemed so superficial and rushed, going through the motions without developing any permanent meaningful lasting relationships.
And let us consider and give attentive, continuous care to watching over one another, studying how we may stir up (stimulate and incite) to love and helpful deeds and noble activities, 25 Not forsaking or neglecting to assemble together [as believers], as is the habit of some people, but admonishing (warning, urging, and encouraging) one another, and all the more faithfully as you see the day approaching, Hebrews 10:24-25.
Yet, this past weekend I found fulfillment in family. Instead of flying in for a funeral and flying out the next day, we spent four days in the mid-west. The first day was spent at Great America, the next golfing with lunch afterward, followed by golf and a series of meals out on the third with a relaxing final day. Each of these events provided one on one time with different individuals. Before the weekend ended, I felt like I became part of the Hanson family. This is what is possible when family time is stretched out instead of jamming everything into one or two days a year.
by Jay Mankus