This past weekend, June 4-5, 2022 my family converged upon Van Wert, OH to celebrate our family reunion. 165 years ago in 1857 prior to the Civil War, my Great, Great, Grandfather Lloyd Phillips escaped slavery in Kentucky and fled to Paulding County, OH where he lived as a free man. Thirteen years later in 1880 he became an ordained minister and started Middle Creek Zion Baptist Church which was the only place African Americans could congregate at that time. On the first Sunday of every June, my family celebrates our reunion in what we call, "Homecoming".
Now in its 152nd year, after a two year hiatus due to the global pandemic, we returned more powerful than ever. On Sundays, we hold church services and this years sermon is the genesis of today's blog. Pastor Lorenzo White of Latty Zion Baptist Church delivered a passionate message regarding the critical importance of family unity that couldn't have been more timely. Whether your "family" is blood, surrogate, adopted, marriage, work, school, or team; like the 1966 classic movie, we've all got "The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly". Despite this fact...realize the magnificence of it all.
Our theme this year was 'blessed be the tie that binds'. The strength of any family can be measured by its weakest link. Regardless the weakness, united we stand; divided we fall. Some of us attempt to deny, disown, turn a blind eye, or flat out ignore our own relatives because, "they've got issues"...as if we don't. Some go the opposite route and try to make their families the epitome of Camelot when in fact behind closed doors, "they've got issues". I think it is fair to say, “Let he or she who has no sin cast the first stone.”
The reality is that EVERY family has issues. One is truly no better than the other for all it takes is a little truth telling and a bit of digging and I bet I can find the challenges I face with my family in any of yours. Regardless of your particular viewpoint of your family or that of others, they remain forever linked to us because they are just that…family.
During my 56 and counting years of living, I’ve met a lot of people. Some were here for a season, others for a reason, and a few for a lifetime (at least thus far). As I think back to friends and acquaintances through the years I often wonder how they’re doing, what they’re up too and what ever happened to them. Though I don’t know many of those answers, I know who does, “their family”.
No matter how bad we screw up, our family loves us anyway. No matter how wonderful the world says we are, our family always brings us back to earth. Of course when you’ve seen what they have for as long as you’ve been alive, it’s easy for them not to take you so dang serious and important. They’ve seen us go through the terrible two’s, the know it all traumatic teens, the sowing our wild oats twenties, and the growing into adulthood thirties (about the time that we really start to appreciate our parents by the way).
They’ve lived to tell about the psycho boy/girlfriends, the marriage/divorces, the family squabbles, the sibling rivalries, and lo’ and behold…our family loves us anyway. They are the one constant, that no matter what happens in this wild and crazy life, remains the same. Friends will come and go, our careers may rise and fall, we will experience failure and success; and this will always be true: Family is forever.
Some of you may be reading this and go, “Well, this sounds all good and all but you really don’t know MY family. They’ve got some unbelievably serious issues.”
And I say to you, “Yes I do. And I love you anyway…family.” Thank you for loving me.