One of the most common ways that St. Margaret’s parishioners describe ourselves is that we are a family. When parishioners say that, I think they mean it in a good way. But “family” is a loaded word to me. When you hear the word “family” you might think of a Norman Rockwell painting where everyone is happily and peaceably eating a family meal – maybe even a meal on Sunday afternoon, like the good ol’ days. You may imagine happy times with your biological family – times of laughter, playing games, celebrating life milestones, and times of love and support. Family can be a place where you are truly yourself and accepted fully.
For others, though, “family” brings up other reactions. All of our families have some level of dysfunction. We have had bitter fights over the years, times of alienation, and periods of estrangement. Families somehow have a way of bringing out the worst in us, as if we automatically regress to our immature teenage selves. If you have ever spent a holiday with a friend’s family, you may have seen your best friend transform into a different version of herself. If you are married, you may have found some comfort in the fact that your family is no more dysfunctional than your spouse’s.
As I have been integrated into the St. Margaret’s community, I have begun to see that we are in many ways like a family – in the best and worst ways. We seem to know each others “buttons,” and at times push them when we should not. We know each other well enough that we let go of pretenses – and yes, we have been known to snap at each other in an impatient moment. But we also have grown to love one another, to appreciate the funny quirks of each person, to laugh with and at one another, and we certainly have learned to celebrate life together. We love each other the way that we love our family – in the blessed ways and the challenging ways.
As we celebrated our 15th Annual Fall Festival this past weekend, I was ever aware of all the ways that we were embodying family. As I watched you help one another, laugh together, and enjoy yourselves, I realized that I too have come to see St. Margaret’s as my family. I love our quirks, the ways that we tease one another, and the ways we welcome others into our crazy family. I looked around last Saturday, and I was quite proud to be not only your rector, but also your family member. As we continue to spread the word about the good work that Christ is doing in our community, I hope we can embrace that word, “family,” fully. Come to St. Margaret’s. We are a family – a fun-loving, Spirit-filled, flawed family. Your fun-loving, Spirit-filled, flawed self is welcome!