Alice played the piano during silent movies in Gentry, Arkansas. Glenn bought the drug store in Southwest City, Missouri. Together they would marry and raise a family. Glenn and Alice raised six children, had 23 grandchildren, countless more great grandchildren, and now even some great, great grandchildren. All in all, nearly 70 of us gathered this past weekend for a Robinson Family Reunion. As Jeff Foxworthy would say, “With that many Robinsons in one place, there was an empty Wal Mart somewhere.”
At this reunion, I got to catch up with my parents, sister (and her family), aunts, uncles and cousins. Due to geographical proximity, we do not get to see each other frequently, but I think we have a fairly tight knit family. About four years ago we began having a reunion every other summer to get the whole clan together. I am so glad we did. I am blessed by it every time.
As I reflect on our reunion, I thought of 3 spiritual analogies that I thought I would share:
- My family (like yours) is diverse. Some are older, some are younger. Some are taller (I even found out I had some great uncles who were “giants” in a circus back in the 1800’s), and some are shorter (my 2 year old son may just be the shortest). Some are Sooners, some are Longhorns. Some are extroverts, some are introverts. We are a diverse family . . . but when we get together, we don’t spend much time enumerating our differences. When we get together, we celebrate what brings us together . . . the common stories, lineage, and love that makes us a family. In the Body of Christ, we too are a diverse breed. As 1 Corinthians 12 tells us we are like a body with many parts. We all have many opportunities as a church family to enumerate our differences (and to tear each other down as a result). Wouldn’t it be great if we spent even more time celebrating what brings us together . . . the Gospel story, our connection to Christ, and the love of God?
- Part of being a family means that you have a shared narrative. What I mean by that is that you all know a bunch of the same stories. When you get a family together, there are certain stories that you are almost guaranteed to hear every time the family gets together. You have heard them so many times that you can complete the punch line of the joke or story before whoever is telling it actually gets there. For instance, this past weekend, I heard (for the 10 millionth time) that my uncle once ran naked down main street in their small Missouri hometown (he was maybe 5 years old at the time). Though I had heard this story many times, I had never heard that the same uncle was once almost shot while working in Tehran. Though there are many stories we have heard again and again, there is always more to hear. This reminds me of the Christian Scriptures. As Christians, we share the stories of our faith heritage off the pages of the Gospels, Acts, and the rest of the Bible. There are stories so familiar, we can recite them without ever having to turn the page. However, if we continue to meet with God over the Scriptures, we will find that there are always more nuggets of truth there that we have never really seen before. What a joy to get to continue to get to know our Lord through the “new” stories we hear and passages we read.
- Seeing all those Robinsons in one room reminded me of the power of legacy. In two generations, your family may be larger or smaller than the offspring of Glenn and Alice, but regardless of the size of your family, you will leave a legacy after you are gone. Glenn and Alice have been in heaven now for nearly 30 and 10 years respectively, yet their legacy lives on. Their influence has survived their mortality. All of us leave an influence “footprint” behind as we walk through this life. Our family is only one part of it, but it is a significant part. Seeing this reminds me to think carefully about what kind of “footprint” I want to leave behind, in my family and otherwise. What will my influence be two generations down the line? How will they remember me? What are the character traits that will be picked up from others who know me well and what will I pass on to my children. An interesting thought as I saw the fruit of Glenn and Alice’s life Saturday night.
Well these are a few of the thoughts I have had as I reflected on my experience last weekend. I could share a few more stories, but you know what they say, “What happens at the family reunion stays at the family reunion.” Don’t worry. I am not referring to juicy stories you would want to hear. I am talking about the kind of stories that only family could appreciate. I can’t wait for two more years when we I get to hear them again.