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DOUG CREAMER COLUMN: Together with family

There are many special things to me about the July 4 holiday. I begin the day by hanging my grandfather’s flag on my house. My grandmother gave it to me, and I consider it a very special reminder of him. It is big and beautiful, and always makes me feel patriotic.

Doug Creamer writes a religion column for the SNAP.

For many years my wife and I hosted the family gathering at our house, when we lived near Faith. The year that President Bush came to Faith was a particularly memorable time. We always took my nephews and nieces over to the fair and enjoyed the rides.

My brother has been hosting the family gathering at his house for a number of years now. It’s convenient for everyone to gather at his house. One of my great-nephews referred to his house as the “fun house” the other day. I have to agree with him. It is always fun to go to my brother’s house.

It was so good to see my family gathered at my brother’s house for the 4th. There is a retired pastor who lives across the street who came over to join the festivities. You can’t be thin-skinned to be at my brother’s house; you will get picked on. The retired pastor joined in the fun and kept everyone laughing. We all treat him and his wife like family.

It’s fun when we gather as family to hear what everyone has been up to since the last time we were together. There are always plenty of stories being shared, some happy, and others about the daily struggles that make up our lives. Everyone has a story, and family gatherings are the perfect opportunity to share. The one thing my family shares at family gatherings is plenty of laughter.

My nieces and nephews are having babies, which is naturally the biggest family news. Another nephew is working hard at his new business of mail-order gourmet food and moving into a new house. Family vacations were a big topic. And naturally, I brought my new book, which caused some excitement, too.

After dinner, my brother set off some fireworks. We all enjoyed watching my 3-year-old great-nephew as he watched the fireworks. Who am I kidding; the adults were enjoying the fireworks, too! The time passed quickly, and before you knew it, we are all working together to clean up.

One of my favorite parts of the day is getting home in time to watch the Capital Fourth Celebration on public television. I really enjoy listening to the special music and watching the fireworks from the comfort of my couch with my wife. It is a great ending to a wonderful day. The Fourth of July is a great time to celebrate family, friends and eat some great food.

Gathering together as a family keeps our hearts united and our bonds strong. We need each other to celebrate our victories, but it’s more important to be there when times are tough. God designed us to be co-dependent on each other, especially in the family of God. There are no super Christians who can make it through life on their own. We need the love and support of each other to press through the challenges life presents.

The pandemic has kept many people away from gathering at church. It is so important that we gather and connect with each other. I need your gifts and you need mine. We need to worship, hear the message and share our needs for prayer. We need to encourage each other and hold each other accountable so we will stay strong and united in faith. We need to laugh and cry together.

We can’t escape the fact that we need each other in both practical and spiritual ways. Sometimes we need practical help fixing or moving things. Other times we need a shoulder to cry on. Your prayers may be the thing that helps me put one foot in front of the other as I take steps forward. For some, the family of God is their only family; brothers and sisters in Christ, offering love and support.

I want to encourage you to commit to safely gathering and connecting with fellow believers. If you aren’t comfortable attending church due to the pandemic, connect on the phone, email, text or simply visit one another. Our spirits need to be rekindled and stirred by each other. Our fire can grow dim when we stay apart, so don’t let the pandemic completely isolate you. Find ways to safely connect with your church family so you can encourage and be encouraged in your Christian walk.

Contact Doug Creamer at PO Box 777, Faith, NC 28041 or doug@dougcreamer.com.