St Luke 8: 19 – 21
Then his mother and his brothers came to him, but they could not reach him because of the crowd. And he was told, ‘Your mother and your brothers are standing outside, wanting to see you.’ But he said to them, ‘My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it.’
I don’t think it would have been easy to be a member of Jesus’ close family. A few chapters earlier, we read the story of Jesus hanging on in the Temple, talking to the teachers, and when challenged by his parents saying “Why were you searching for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?”. And now this story. Quite apart from the tensions that would arise by having someone so renowned in the family, might sayings like this make you feel rejected as a family member?
We often use family as an image for the Church, but it isn’t one that works perfectly for everyone. If your childhood was blighted by abuse within the family, why would you want to get more of the same? Last week, as we received some people into membership, a rather drunk man arrived at the back, and started asking questions about why someone needed to be part of a local church – he didn’t have much time for the family image!
I once had a teacher who asked us to define a family. Two schools of thought developed – one group tried to create a list: “People who are related by blood or marriage or…” and quickly found it was a tricky task. The others felt that a family is “a group of people who stick together through thick and thin”.
Since those days, I have worked with talented lawyers who would have pointed out the flaws with both approaches, and designed an elegant way through, but I am still attracted to the latter definition both for a family, and a local church. At times when we might be tempted to see our faith as something between us and God alone, and be tempted to step away from church, what does Jesus’ invitation to us to see ourselves as part of his family mean for our fellowship and commitment to other Christians?
We give thanks for families,
for the love we have experienced,
and pray that we may express your love.
May we never take love for granted.
We bring you the hurts we feel,
and have have caused.
Help us to accept your healing.
We pray for your Church.
May we stick together.
May we love you, and each other.
May we speak the truth in love,
and proclaim the truth of your love.