The Blessing of Family

Well, what do you know: good news about the American family! According to a recent study by Columbia University, more American families are eating dinner together. About six in ten families now report eating dinner together at least five times a week, up from less than five families in ten a decade ago. This could be a factor of a difficult economy or more health consciousness, but either way it’s good for the family.

An old bumper sticker once read: “The family that prays together, stays together.” While that’s undoubtedly true, families doing ANYTHING together has become too rare in recent years. So even if four families in ten still don’t do it as the norm, hearing about an increase in families eating dinner together is good news, no matter the cause.

This past Memorial Day weekend my family and I traveled to the Antiochian Village where I was the speaker at this year’s Family Camp. This program began back when I was the Camp Director at the Village, but the program has grown quite a bit since then. When it began, our average attendance was approximately ten families.  This past weekend almost 60 families gathered together.  The accommodations are quite nice: each family gets their own camper cabin and enjoyed three meals a day together, church services, activities as well as time just to relax and play games. It was apparent on the faces of everyone involved that this time spent together was a great blessing.

Of course it seems it should be obvious, but with family time at a premium, we should ask ourselves why is family time together so important? People from all faith backgrounds may have their own answers, as well as people of no faith. As Christians, we have a unique answer to this question: God Himself is family. This coming Sunday is the Feast of Pentecost, the commemoration of the coming of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles and through them to the entire Church. The Holy Spirit is God’s Breath, His Wind blowing forth into the world and making the presence of the Holy Trinity known. And how do we know the first two Persons of the Trinity? As family: the Father and the Son. We can see clearly that not only was the crown of God’s creation a family (Adam and Eve). Together with the Holy Spirit, God himself is revealed as family.

Families are not only the building blocks of society. They are not only the primary relationships we have as persons. They are both of those, by God’s design and patterned after His own life. For these reasons–and because society has lost much respect for the family–we should celebrate anything that encourages and supports us in our family relationships.

For many of us, summer will bring family vacations. These can be incredible opportunities to focus on who we are in our family relationships and realize again that this is where we are formed and sustained. So let’s make the most out of these opportunities this summer. I will also put a plug-in for the programs of the Church that exists to support us as families within the family of God: not only programs like Family Camp at the Antiochian Village, but our own Family Night which will return for its Fall run in September.

The blessing of Family is one of God’s greatest. Let’s treasure it, honor it, and work to strengthen it!