I know… another day-late entry. It my defense, it was Father’s Day yesterday and I was spending time with my family in the most fatherly way I could think of… I took a nap. At least, that is what I remember my dad doing for much of my childhood. Granted, he worked the graveyard shift for much of that time, so I guess it wasn’t so much that he was taking a nap as it was him getting his life giving sleep.
I’m not sure if his physical absence from my childhood due to our conflicting sleep schedules is what attributed to our strained relationship. Maybe it was the fact that it was so hard for me to stay quiet during the day during his prime sleeping hours was what contributed to his constantly being grumpy and mostly directed it toward me (he probably recognised my voice even in his dreams). Maybe the fear that I felt of him for much of my formative years is why I even classify our relationship as “strained”.
I mean, he wasn’t a bad dad in the sense that he provided for us at the expense of that Cadillac he always wanted but never got. He did what he could to protect us even if that meant waking up to deal with the neighbourhood bully that was terrorizing my sisters. He showed interest in teaching me about cars even though in hindsight I now know he had no clue as to what he was talking about. It was clear he wanted a relationship with me through our infrequent chats (which were usually arguments) that would end up in a rare and awkward hug.
In his own weird and unique way he showed me that he loved me and he recognized above all that I am his son. And so I will honour him on Father’s Day and beyond, by remembering him and teaching my kids about his influence, his hard working attitude, and how he’d fake his car knowledge like no one’s business.
Here we see Jesus giving the promise of welcome. A welcome of our ministry. A welcome of our call as God’s children. A welcome that recognises the love of Christ in and through our witness.
And I know, we don’t always feel welcome. In fact, there are times we are completely blind to it. But notice Jesus’ words. He is definite. Absolute. Confident, even. He speaks in a “matter of fact” way, assuring us that it isn’t if the welcome is coming, but when. And when it does, it reveals his presence among us and our community.
I find this extremely comforting, because in those times when we feel the least welcome, those times when we feel perhaps abandoned and neglected, those times when we just don’t feel the love that we long for from those closest to us, we can trust in this promise of welcome. We can trust that it is there when we don’t recognise it. It is there when we don’t feel it. It is there when our preconceived notions tell us otherwise. It is there, because Jesus is there.
Jesus is there bringing us peace. Jesus is there bringing us joy. Jesus is there, in spite of what might be thinking or perceiving, revealing to us our welcome and inclusion in God’s family of people of sinner/saints, forgiven by grace, saved by mercy, created by love.
This isn’t to excuse the evil of the world. This isn’t to say that we can treat people with whatever kind of neglect might suit us. This isn’t to say that we don’t have a responsibility to make known God’s love to all people regardless of how they might differ from us. Rather, it is to highlight what God is already doing in the world, and perhaps remind us of how we can take part in it through our own love, community, and welcome.
Thanks be to God! There is comfort in knowing that God is present, God is welcoming, and God is love.
Have a great week!