This is the time of year when our thoughts naturally turn to summer plans. The month of May typically includes the winding down of the school year, and Memorial Day weekend signals the beginning of summer. Vacations, trips to the beach, watching the sun set, and traveling to family reunions are just some of the things we anticipate. Or did, before the pandemic.
This year there will not likely be a big family reunion at the Haas farm outside of Pittsburgh. Run by my third-removed cousin, the “other” Betsy Haas, this glorious location sits nestled among the hills and valleys of green fields and picturesque farmlands. Our family reunion is filled with story telling, (some of them are even true!) hugging, laughing, and most of all, EATING. Popular family recipes show up every year, and we get our annual fill of fresh-from-the-garden three-bean salad, Aunt Judy’s Lemon Lust, and hot buffalo chicken dip on salty Fritos. It is a gastronomic delight. Hay rides and blueberry picking round out the day, and we delight in the company of family.
It always makes me think that heaven must be exactly like that. A big family reunion, a warm summer day, lots of feasting at the heavenly banquet, and seeing people we love from whom we are separated by distance and time.
John 14 is a common funeral text, and it references the place we will go upon our death as a family reunion of sorts. The dwelling place that God has prepared for us has enough room for the entire clan:
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. 2 In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also. 4 And you know the way to the place where I am going.” 5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” 6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you know me, you will know my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”
In the midst of reminding his disciples that they already know the way to their heavenly reunion when their time comes, Jesus clarifies that the host is his Father, who is the one who sent Jesus to show them the way:
8 Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.” 9 Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own; but the Father who dwells in me does his works. 11 Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; but if you do not, then believe me because of the works themselves. 12 Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father. 13 I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it.
Coming home at the end of our lives will be a reunion with the Father and the Son, and all of our loved ones. This is why Jesus begins with “Do not let your hearts be troubled.” Jesus will come and take us to a homestead that he has prepared for us himself. No matter what trouble the world gives, these things are guaranteed: a heavenly family reunion, a feast of good things, and the comfort of a home made ready by the Lord himself.
I wonder if there will be Lemon Lust??