Kenneth L. Samuel
"Look, I am sending you the prophet Elijah before the great and dreadful day of the Lord arrives. His preaching will turn the hearts of fathers to their children, and the hearts of children to their fathers. Otherwise I will come and strike the land with a curse." - Malachi 4:5-6
Ever notice how difficult it is to think about the seasons of Advent and Christmas without thinking about your family? Even if we are unable to or have no plans to be with family members during this special season, we still reminisce and often relish the ties that bind us to our families.
And this is as it should be. According to Malachi's prophesy, before the Great Day of the Lord appears, a prophet in the spirit of Elijah would be sent, one who would preach with such power that familial hearts would embrace and families would be reunited. This restoration of the most basic unit of society – the family – would be the first, indispensable step toward the restoration of the nation.
So many factors and trends in our society contribute to the diminishment of quality family time, and quality family relations. Excessive work demands, the increased pressure for job relocations, the prevalence of individual technological entertainment and the conservative attempts to define and to limit "family" along the parochial lines of tradition—all of these things and more have made it a challenge, not just to keep families physically together, but to keep families intimately and emotionally connected.
Nothing short of God's prophetic Spirit could persuade us to turn not just our thoughts and schedules, but our hearts toward the people that provided the love, the nurture and the support that gave us our start in life. And since no family is perfect, we must rely on the reconciling power of God in our hearts to enable us to do that which no family can survive without: Forgive. There is no Advent without the call to family reunion. And there is no family reunion without the power of God enabling us to forgive.
Gracious God, we thank you for the ties that bind us to our families at this special time of the year. Now please turn our hearts toward reunion and reconciliation. Amen.
Kenneth L. Samuel is Pastor of Victory for the World Church, Stone Mountain, Georgia.