Thu Dec 14-Family Gatherings

John 16:25-34 (CEB)

25 “I’ve been using figures of speech with you. The time is coming when I will no longer speak to you in such analogies. Instead, I will tell you plainly about the Father. 26 In that day you will ask in my name. I’m not saying that I will ask the Father on your behalf. 27 The Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and believed that I came from God. 28 I left the Father and came into the world. I tell you again: I am leaving the world and returning to the Father.”

29 His disciples said, “See! Now you speak plainly; you aren’t using figures of speech. 30 Now we know that you know everything and you don’t need anyone to ask you. Because of this we believe you have come from God.”

31 Jesus replied, “Now you believe? 32 Look! A time is coming—and is here!—when each of you will be scattered to your own homes and you will leave me alone. I’m not really alone, for the Father is with me. 33 I’ve said these things to you so that you will have peace in me. In the world you have distress. But be encouraged! I have conquered the world.”


We come from a long line of what some people would call contrarians. Some of us in our family don’t mind an argument or confrontation. Some of us actually will say something just to see what kind of reaction it gets from others. Now, holiday time may not be the best time for this type of behavior. Jesus said in this text that he was not going to speak in stories and analogies, but he was just going to plainly speak about God’s love for him and for us. Jesus experienced all of the feels – good and bad – of being a human and being part of a family. We see in scripture that people in his hometown and in his own family had difficulty with his teaching. That is the thing about families – the people in families can be as diverse in beliefs and thinking as any group we belong to. What can make it more of a conundrum is that we know so much history about each other as well as the fact that we love each other but may not like each other very much at times. Jesus was getting ready to return to his heavenly home and to send the disciples
back to their homes. He gave them words of encouragement so that they would know that he had conquered the world and would give them (and us) peace if they believed. He also told them (and us) that in this world we will have distress, but that he will help us conquer it!

Sometimes when we plan for family or other gatherings around the holidays, we may feel stress. Maybe it’s because we have had a hard year, and we haven’t seen certain people as much as we normally would because we couldn’t afford to financially or emotionally. Sometimes it is really difficult to spend time with certain people because of our history together or because of the current social or political climate and we know we have opposing ideas. Maybe someone gave us a present, and we are just not able to reciprocate at this time. Whatever it is, “going home” can be stressful. Maybe we live in the same place that we grew up so going home is going across the yard or down the stairs or just across town. Maybe going home is 1 hour or 10 hours away, or maybe there is not really a home to go home to for whatever reason. Whatever the distance or circumstance, we can find ourselves stressed about it. In Dr Julie Smith’s book Why Has Nobody Told Me This Before, Dr Smith states that stress can be a good thing – it can make us more aware of our surroundings and of our feelings and our body’s response to those feelings so we can react better to them. As Joe said on Sunday, our first line of defense to help ourselves when or even before we are stressed is prayer. We need wisdom to determine when and if we should speak out when someone says something hurtful or if it is best to ignore it. If we do decide to speak out then our text about speaking directly but remembering God’s love not only for us, but for the person we may be in conflict with can be very helpful to keep us calm during those encounters.

by Janet Waryck

For Pondering & Prayer

Will there be a situation during your Christmas gatherings that you are anticipating might be stressful for you? What are some things you can do beforehand? First of course is prayer. You can read over this passage and remember that Jesus said we will have difficulties, but he conquered the world and is there to help us.

Prayer: Dear Jesus, help us to remember that you had conflict with those who were close to you. Help us to remember to turn to you for guidance when we are in situations with family and friends that may be uncomfortable. Help us to speak up and out when necessary and to comfort us when we decide it is best not to. Give us wisdom to make the right decisions in every encounter we have so that we may let your light shine at this season and throughout the year.

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