Tuesday 29 January 2008

Happy Families?

The Gospel at Mass this morning was from 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.
Is our regular concept of “family” too narrow for the gospel? These words challenge many assumptions of anyone who has invested heavily in the concept of the 2·4 kids nuclear family as an ideal. Investing in anything as an ideal can make it harder to enjoy it as a reality, too. The "family” with all its possibilities for heaven or hell is no less in need of redemption than any other human community.

It's interesting to encounter Luke 8 whilst staying away from my family. It's more than interesting to hear them in a religious community, whose very setup cuts across the saccharine assumptions of the Mothercare catalogue. What scope is there for Christian covenanted community living apart from the nuclear family?

The way we relate to other people is a major expression, like it or not, of how we relate to God. If we approach all life as alternative, nobody can be taken for granted, every relationship is a gift, a field to be sown, tended and harvested if it is to be fruitful. Early Christians transformed the world by thinking different and living different, not by complaining about everybody else's morals.


Sarah Brush said...

Having just taken for teenagers down to cook dinner for the guest at the Wycombe Winter Night Shelter, I've been thinking about community and family a bit too.

It is great when we build up our churches as communities - when we look after our own family. The Gospel demands more though. It just feels SO RIGHT to open up our church building to people who have no home.

We were privileged enough to be there on a night when one of the guests is in transition: He's spending his last night in the shelter (off to pick up keys to his new place in the morning) and talking about how he's going to sort our kitchen cupboards out for us when he joins the volunteer team.

"For as much as you did it for the least of these..."

Bishop Alan Wilson said...

I'm entirely with you, Sarah. I take it your project is the new one that Tony Willis was involved in, not the Tea Warehouse...

You're all very much in my prayers

as ever


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