Theme: The Christian Church is a family, made one across ethnic, linguistic, economic, and other social lines of division. The family’s unity rests in Jesus who is in each and together the members of the Church are in Jesus.
In Canada, Mothers’ Day is the busiest day of the year for phone calls as adult children call their mothers. Therefore trying to mark the second Sunday in May as anything other than Mothers’ Day is difficult. At least the lectionary readings this week help us begin to move the conversation. Mothers are part of families – and the readings this week – for Christian Family Sunday – invite us to think about the reality of the Church as the Christian Family.
The Acts passage presents three pictures of family (household). The slave girl is part of a family/household that exploits her for their benefit. In order to make money off her they provide a place to live and food and clothes. Is that the only purpose of family, to provide us with the necessities of life? For some that is the model. Then there is the jailer’s family/household. This household has a job, a calling – to keep the prisoners in prison. The household works together towards this end, serving a purpose beyond itself. The family serves the greater purpose out of fear. When the jailer believes the family has failed to fulfill the mission he plans to commit suicide, taking the fall. Is family to be so driven that fear of failure is what holds it together? Then there is the Christian family into which Paul and Silas invite people. The slave girl is freed from the demon, becoming economically worthless to her family of owners but loved by the Christian family. The jailer and his household are freed from the threat of failure and their baptism marks their entrance into the Christian family. The Christian family is for misfits and failures. Because in this family it does not matter how many times you fail, how much of a misfit you are – you are loved.
Revelation reminds us of this same truth – we get into the family not by our good works – not because we have done fewer bad things than others. Family members wash their robes – a sign of baptism into Christ – of their past and new life in Christ begins. It is unfortunate the lectionary chooses to not include vs. 15, because those who have murdered, who have worshipped idols, and so on – they too can wash their robes in the water of baptism and come into the family – with the past as the past. The members of the family have found a new identity in the water of life offered to all who are thirsty for a new way of being – for a new family in which to belong.
John reminds us our belonging to the family comes from Christ alone, he in us and us in him. That inter-locking life is the life that every member of the family has – Christ in me makes me brother to every other person who has Christ in them. This is our new identity. This is the Christian family. Unity in this family comes not from our working at it – not from our planning for it – it comes from Christ in us – God in us – it is all of God’s work.
“There is good evidence that early congregations attracted a surprising cross-section of first and second century society. Was this because the early church – unlike our church’s all-too-frequent application of economic determinism to explain everyone’s situation in life – failed to take either a person’s poverty or wealth with ultimate seriousness?” – William Willimon
“Children of one Father should live together as one family. Therefore, as Jesus prays that his children may be kept one in the name of God, so he prays that all who believe may be one, living in one household, for “God has no grandchildren.” This manifest unity in the one name will challenge the world to recognize that the name of Jesus is not the name of “one of the prophets” but the name of the one sent by the Father to whom all that belongs to the Father has been given.” –Lesslie Newbigin
- “When in our music God is glorified”
- “Blest be the tie that binds”
- “Help us accept each other” (Fred Kaan)
- “Soon and very soon we are going to see the King”
- “Blessed be the Lord God Almighty” (Bob Fitts)