Fall has finally arrived in North Carolina.  The air is getting colder and crisp, and we can hear the crackle of freshly fallen leaves under our shoes.  We are past the excitement of Halloween and the feast of All Saints. Now, our hearts and minds turn toward the annual celebration of Thanksgiving.  For the Mazingo family, that means preparing for a chaotic day filled with food and joyful conversations.  Each year we travel to Tarboro along with siblings, nieces, nephews, uncles, cousins, and the odd friend from school who couldn’t make it home to their family this year.  The house is filled with running children, football games on TV, and the telling of old stories.  It usually includes a child who feels like another child isn’t sharing.  Or reminders from wives to husbands that we are NOT talking about politics.  And the occasional new in-law teaching the cook the “right” way to cook stuffing.  We remember loved ones who have passed, listen to music, hug, and sometimes sing.  It is a joyful mess and one we, for the most part, look forward to having.

This experience is not unlike that of our church family.  We are new to St. John’s, but if my experience in the past is any indication, I would guess that we will find St. John’s a holy and joyful mess.  A group of people who have found each other through faith in a forgiving and loving God.  Sometimes we will sing and rejoice.  Other times we may have disagreements.  New life will be marked in Baptism, and eternal life commemorated at funerals. However, our church family is not all that different from our real families, with one important distinction.  While our Thanksgiving gatherings involve those linked by blood, marriage, or friendship, our church family is related by faith.

All are welcome into this family that gathers at a table where a perpetual fest is set.  Each member brings their own side dish of past experiences.  Some of these experiences will be in the form of talents we can share, like singing or organizing.  Others may be painful and need support.  Regardless we have a group of people seeking to find the love of God through community.  Every family has its good times and hard times. But, like any family, we get through those times together.

Our family is excited to join your family.  Over the next couple of months, I will find time to talk with you and get to know you.  We can do so much together to nurture our children’s faith and learn from them how to view God’s kingdom.  I’m excited to share that experience with you, and I give thanks for the gift of this Holy and joyful mess we call the church.