I was privileged to be part of the Baldner Family Reunion this past weekend in Austin, Minnesota. Austin is the city of my fathers before me, my dad and his father Roy Baldner. The family settled south of there originally after immigrating in the 1870s to Adams Township, Minnesota before moving into the town of Austin. I had been asked to organize the reunion this year which includes my grandfather's six daughters and one son still remaining in my father's immediate family. The ages of that group range from 97 years of age to 67 years of age with nine children in the family in all (including my dad) with my grandfather remarrying after losing the first wife (my biological grandmother) to uterine cancer in the 1930s. So two moms produced the family of nine, and the grandchildren (people in my generation of the family) range in age from older than my grandfather's youngest child, my uncle, to people much younger than me. Needless to say, the next generation, our own children, are in an age range of 50 years old to a recently born baby of one year of age. Such is family.
If I were to be asked, and I haven't been for the record, to say what one statistic of modernity troubles me the most, I'd have to say the shift, culturally, of the nuclear family. This came to my mind as I sat and talked to people I haven't seen in years (decades as a matter of fact). My aunts, now in their 70s - 90s, and their families have a nucleus that is present when we are gathered. These families have worked over these past years to help aging parents (my own and my cousins' families as well), and have borne the burden of taking care of grandchildren as parents my age work or divorce and need assistance from family to ease the burden of single-parenthood. Our family is not perfect, but it seems to have survived the storms we face in life and takes care of the needs within the family.
This family, as has been designed for many generations, provides the fabric for a sense of identity, for belonging, and for providing the fundamentals of life in terms of shelter, food, clothing, and other basic items needed to survive and have hope for thriving. Societal types cite any number of occurrences that have helped create the modern problems we face, but the family's dissolution has to be a main problem as is the church's lack of ability or will to intervene as a church community. It's not oversimplification to say such because scripture is filled with parents' commands for their children.
"Hear, my son, your father’s instruction, and forsake not your mother’s teaching, for they are a graceful garland for your head and pendants for your neck." Proverb 1:8-9 "Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it." Proverbs 22:6
We know the importance of our calling as parents. And as a church, we assume that responsibility in the absence of the parent as we recently stated in baptisms in our church.
We should pray and actively seek methods to ensure we are providing a rich, Christian environment for our children who may not be in broken families or in families that are intact. Family is undeniably important, and our role as fathers and parents is equally undeniably important. Pray for continued guidance as fathers and parents to "train up our children in the way he, or she, should go."
Hope Men's Ministry