Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: GATHERING (07/14/16)
- TITLE: Family Reunion, Banquet-Style
By Marlene Bonney
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Like a child on Christmas Eve, I was looking forward to this particular family reunion with bated breath.
I had called, sooner than most, to make my reservation and hoped I would be seated amongst my favorite cousins, some of whom I had not seen for years, distance being the greatest hindrance.
There would be the usual ice-breaker game before sitting down together for the meal. I wondered if Uncle Stephen would be in charge of that, as he was the next person in line to receive the honor. Whatever he planned, it was bound to be lively, reflective of previous gatherings.
“He must be quite elderly by now, James. Remember how gray his hair was the last time we were all together?” my husband of fifty years sitting beside me on the patio for our usual front row seating to the glories of the sunset.
“I guess I don’t recall that, but I do remember thinking he was looking rather frail."
“Well, it’s no wonder! That beating he took when he was in his prime took a significant toll on his health.”
Seasoned lovers, we held hands and gazed at the melding oranges, yellows, reds and blues splayed against the horizon. Like a painter’s canvas, colors from the Master’s command miraculously splashed across the sky. I hoped we would have similar views at the faraway reunion and that I would never take such grandeur for granted.
As the date drew nearer, I was growing despondent over the dwindling responses from the RSVP invitations.
“I don’t know what’s happening to our extended family,” I complained as I counted the “Not Able To Attend” response cards.
Our third cousin—twice removed—was too busy planning her wedding. My maternal aunt, Birdie, would be on a cruise. Our own son just wasn’t interested, breaking my heart with his cavalier attitude. I could understand my great-niece’s reluctance, of course—nine months pregnant by then (her womb already looked like a torpedo ready to launch) it would not be a wise idea. Sam was settling his father’s estate, Gene and Helen were overwhelmed with the year’s harvest on their hundreds of acres farm land. The list of declines, much like an uncompleted “honey-do” list, was depressing.
“Now, now, dear. Don’t let them steal your joy!” James’ usual adage when I was allowing others’ problems to become my own.
He was right, nonetheless, and I tried to center my thoughts on the other activities in store for we who were attending the reunion. After all, Matt and Bart and Jim and John were all coming. Their camaraderie was usually a sight to behold, especially when they began reminiscing about the antics of their youth. I chuckled as I recalled some of the more colorful stories they shared at family gatherings. Steadfast Pete would attend, and Uncle Paul always showed up to bind us all together. Like a chain of impenetrable misshapen links, we were stronger because of our diversity and storm-ridden pasts.
It was a blessing that no one had to pay for their meal or travel to and from our meeting place. It was free for anyone who would accept the personal invitation, which is another reason why I marveled at the number who refused. Conversely, I was delighted that our eight grandchildren were to be present, following in the footsteps of their parents.
I had already chosen an outfit to wear to the event, even though I knew it would be changed as soon as I arrived. I wanted to look my best in front of all these relatives and it would be interesting to see their ensembles, as well. I wondered, in a tangent of dreamy expectations, if Aunt Addie would still sport a double chin, something that had one of the cousins remark about her resemblance to his bulldog, Sport. I wondered if I would recognize those saints I had never met in this life—those who had traveled the same narrow road up to Eternity. I wanted to shake their hands and give them hugs and listen attentively to their narratives of what it had been like to walk with Jesus.
As our Host, Jesus will reside at the head of the meal table as we share the feast He has prepared for us in our Eternal Family Reunion. And I think we will “high-five” each other, as we sing His praises forever and ever.
“For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.
After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.” I Thessalonians 4:16-17, NIV
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