Thanksgiving most likely involves family—grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, parents, siblings, or children. Maybe Friendsgiving is your celebration of thanks this year, or a brother or sister in Christ is your closest family right now. No matter the family context, the gospel gives us much to be thankful for. For us, we’ve thought through lately how the gospel really has impacted our family during this season. Here are 5 ways we are so grateful for the whole gospel:
1. The gospel reminds us of the design and purpose of family.
God has always been after the hearts of people, and the family is one of His primary relationship structures through which His love and truth are passed from generation to generation. The gospel reminds us that life does not orbit around our family. Our family’s life orbits around the gospel. We endeavor to build a healthy family in order to better carry the gospel, not just in order to possess a healthy family.
2. The gospel gives us safe respite as a family.
The gospel provides a foundation that ultimately puts us on the same page, dimming agendas and fears. We are able to just be when we are together. We can create and consume a spread of food, watch football, work a puzzle together, read, or nap on the couch. Conversation is warm, full of laughter, sometimes passionate, but optional. Comfortable silence is common. Family time is able to be a haven.
3. The gospel restores our family when missteps or miscommunication impact our relationships.
We want to be honest; we can disagree in huge ways with those we love. Distance can create separation that builds and small affronts can become wedges. Close proximity over several days can create conflicts. The young cousins’ disagreements can become the parents’ arguments. We have a lot of strong, stubborn people in our family, and being right can become too important in the moment. Because of the gospel, we must view forgiveness in light of Jesus, and know He is working all our family members’ stubbornness into resolve for Kingdom impact. When we openly talk about how God has saved and taken care of us, worship and pray together, there’s perspective and common ground from which to relate. It’s messy. The gospel lens provides opportunities for conversations in the margins of the family gatheringthat can bring healing.
4. The gospel reaffirms our family’s identity.
A family’s identity can be rooted in Christ, just as an individual’s can. We view our family as a cohort following Him together. Thanksgiving for us looks like energetic greetings and excitement for cousins’ arrivals. There’s humor in the way everyone defaults back to their birth order or family role. We’re all so different from each other, but the gospel puts us on the same big-picture page and shapes our priorities. We can’t wait to hear stories of national park visits, new adventures, burdens, or funny situations. Someone is moved by people they’ve encountered that need gospel impact. One of the nieces or nephews is dating someone new. The guys revel in watching football together. We gather before the meal to share things we’re thankful, pray, and sing the Doxology. Around the Thanksgiving table, many of the same stories are told year after year, and the retelling is important. Memory banks are tapped into and filled. Time slows for a bit, and eyes bright with smiles or tears connect with those around the table. Confidence is built with the people we’re with. The sounds, smells, stories, and smiles somehow cement values that make us a unique family. Resting in gospel identity cultivates belonging in our family.
5. The gospel gives us a resolve to impact the world as a family.
Before our immediate family parts ways after the Thanksgiving holiday, we will have sat down together to share this past year of gospel impact, tough times, unmet expectations, challenges, and concerns that are on the horizon for each person. Occasionally, we get the opportunity to serve together. This year, all of our family members had the opportunity to serve on the Student Ministry’s Fall Retreat—so much fun to see those you love speaking the gospel into others’ lives. Our hope is that our kids (all adults now) will hear us saying, “Go–we’ve got your back and we’re praying for you!” Reflecting on the gospel and its loving urgency helps us appreciate this parenting stage of sending.
The gospel is everything to us. Praying for your family this Thanksgiving as you consider the ways the gospel is impacting you.