Ansell: Family gatherings at church and dining room tables
The Blonde (aka my wife Jennifer) and I were talking the other night about our family and there were lots of great memories being discussed. We have four kids. One is a very smart preacher, one is a highly successful corporate person, the baby of the family is in grad school working harder than ever, and our youngest son Jack does a lot of things and enjoys them all - it’s hard not to like and even envy Jack. I’m biased, but Jack in my opinion is one of the world’s greatest church music leaders. For about 2 1/2 years, I got to share the platform with him and his best friend from high school and in many ways our adopted son Reed. Reed calls Jennifer, Momma Ansell.
I have an award I give out, and it’s the Reed White Hero of the Day Award (it’s more or less an MVP award), and if you ever receive it, you should know it’s quite an honor and achievement because I think Reed is the best of the best.
Jack and Reed led our music while we lived in Bedford Falls, and we became spoiled in several ways. One of those reasons was relational. Jack had moved to Dallas, and he would come back home, often on Saturday nights along with Reed, spend the night at our home and then be ready for church the next day. This dynamic duo would then come home for Sunday lunch, and what a blessing it was to have half of our family home for Sunday dinner plus Reed (GOAT).
All of this made me think about other people, maybe even you, people that have family close. If I had family close but not in regular church attendance, I would leverage Sunday in the greatest possible way. What I mean is, I would invite my family to come and worship Jesus and then invite them over for brunch after the service … after all, who doesn’t love brunch, and I would go the extra mile every week for them on the menu (make it special - outdo yourself every week - make it better and better and better - create a culture of great worship and then great food).
I would do this for a couple of reasons. One is I would want my family to be in church. I would want my kids, grandkids, brother in law, sister, mom and dad to hear the Word of God every week because I still have faith in the power of the Word of God, it still changes lives, it still saves lives (that’s what is at stake).
The other reason is because the days are short. Jesus explained this in John 9:4, “As long as it is day, we must do the works of Him who sent Me. Night is coming, when no one can work." I want to spend as much time with my family as possible because we have a limited amount of time to do so. I would love to go back and hear the stories and the laughter that was around the table during that too short of season.
If we ever have a fire at our house, probably more than anything else that I would try to save besides Jennifer (ha) is our kitchen table (Oscar the three-legged cat would be on his own). Our kitchen table used to be the table that my mom sat at with her family when she was a kid. I sat at it with my parents and brothers when I was a kid, and now we use it on a daily basis.
The desk I have in my office is also an old dining room table that was my parents' a million years ago. It’s never been pretty, but five generations of Ansell’s have sat it, including my kids who grew up sitting around it (we have always sat down as a family for meals). If these pieces of furniture could talk, oh the joy!
I envy you if your family is close enough for you to invite to church and over for brunch every week. I miss those weekly gatherings. Take advantage of the opportunities that God is giving you (stewardship) and enjoy your family; they are a gift for sure. But listen, don’t just share a meal, share Jesus as well. He told me to tell you that.