Church is family when a wife is sitting by herself in a crowded waiting room. Her husband is having serious surgery 180 miles from home. A familiar voice calls her name. It belongs to a member of her small group from church, who made the drive just to sit with her through the nerve-wracking moments.
Church is family when that man who had surgery and his wife get back home and find their yard mowed. It turns out someone from church came by and mowed it for them.
Church is family when a young couple, far from home, needs someone to keep the kids so they can have simple evening out on the town. A kind grandmother from church volunteers to keep their precious treasures and refuses to be paid because she remembers what is was like when she was young, far from home, and had no money.
Church is family when two men stay after a church meeting just talking over the bed of a pickup truck. One is talking out his troubles at work. The other man is listening, not really offering advice, just nodding, understanding, just being there.
Church is family when that family that hasn’t been to church in two years shows back up one Sunday. No one says, “’Bout time you came back to church.” Instead, there are smiles, handshakes, and “Good to see you this morning” is spoken to them over and over.
Church is family when information is shared in a group that could easily turn into gossip, but instead the small group decides this information is a call to prayer.
Church is family when gathered for a covered dish dinner. Everyone shares what they have. All cooks are not created equal, but all desserts are consumed.
Church is family when a group of church folks make sure a child is picked up from school each day. The parents can’t because the Mom works and the Dad has a brain tumor. No one from the church misses their day because it’s a small worry they can take off this family’s plate.
Church is family when a group of women get together and decide to give a baby shower for a pregnant teenager. They know she’s already endured shame; they want to smother her with grace.
Church is family when an older couple, whose children live across the country, are invited to join another family for Christmas dinner. It’s the first time in many years they’ve had the thrill of watching presents opened on Christmas morning.
Church is family when a pastor shows up to pray with a couple who were just awarded permanent custody of their foster child. Everyone is rejoicing and thanking God and the pastor wants to be part of the joy.
Church is family when two retired nurses sit in a teepee during Vacation Bible School to hand out Bandaids to children young enough to be their great-grandchildren. They’re there because they love the noise of children running through the building. “It makes the place alive,” they say.
Church is family when after church, one church members backs into another church member’s car. The backer profusely apologizes and the backee smiles and says, “Don’t worry. I’ve got insurance. It’s all okay.”
Church is family when a group realizes one member won’t have much of a Christmas for their kids. They gather a bunch of cash together and slide the envelope under the front door of that family. The Mom thinks the money must have been brought by a angel. In a way, it was.
Church is family when an older man puts his hand on the shoulder of young man just beginning his career and says, “Young man, I just want you to know I believe you have what it takes.” In the tough days ahead, that young man remembers those words over and over.
Everyone of these stories is true. I’ve seen them. When church is family, it’s at its best. These are not the kind of stories that make the front page of the paper, or go viral. But they are the kinds of stories that change the world.
Church is family when we do one simple thing: Love one another as Jesus loved us. That simple.