Friday, December 01, 2006
Every family experiences moments of transition. A parent dies. When my father died early last year, it forced numerous changes in roles and relationships. My mother, my brothers,even members of the church where he had preached had to assume new responsibilities. The youngest child leaves home. This happened to me earlier this year. When my son left for college, I was amazed at the multitude of very different emotions I experienced. A grandchild dies unexpectedly. Years ago, a friend of mine was driving a tractor and wagon on his farm when his grandson fell from the wagon and died. Grief over unexpected loss often is hard to heal. These moments change relationships within families as they adapt to the gain or loss of a personality, as they search for someone to fill the role of the absent person, as they search for new meaning. Sometimes, unfortunately, previously formed hostility and aliances solidify at these moments in ways that harm the family. Such a moment in the family of Abraham is recorded i the Bible in Genesis 25. Previously, Abraham had sent his son Ishmael away at the insistence of his wife Sarah so that Ishmael would not threaten the status of their son, his chosen heir, Isaac. Abraham died and was buried by the side of Sarah, who had died years earlier. Ishmael and Isaac returned to honor their father. The two brothers stood side by side at the grave of a father who loved them both. It could have been a poignant moment of reconciliation that would have changed history. However,, the next few verses of the Bible say that while God blessed Isaac, Ishmael's descendants lived inhostility toward all their brethren. A critical opportunity had been missed. Besides the events mentioned earlier, holidays also provide the opportunity to get together, to forgive, and to rejoice. they also can be times of torture where families revisit past hurts. This year, seize the opportunity for joy. Let your family's moment of transition mark a renewal of commitment and love.