Wow. Things have been rocking along and it seems weird to not have posted in a month. Oops. To break this trend here is my Lenten devotion for Trinity UMC, Gainesville. Please note the Hauerwasian influences.
SCRIPTURE: When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing beside her, he said to his mother, “Woman, here is your son.” Then he said to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home.” – JOHN 19:26–27 (NRSV)
Within the election cycle for as long as I can remember there have been laments from politicians, pastors, and other people about the need to restore “traditional family values.” What are traditional family values? So often this term is used as a political boxing glove to attack a person’s political opponent. Scripture has a lot to say about family, however, for the New Testament, not much of it is positive.
For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and one’s foes will be members of one’s own household. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; – Matthew 10:35–37 (NRSV)
What could Jesus have meant? Is Jesus on the side of the rebellious teenager or disappointed mother-in-law? Or is something else going on? As always, our interpretation of the text is enlightened by the context. The next few verses continue the story.
…and whoever does not take up the cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Those who find their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it. – Matthew 10:38–39 (NRSV) What Jesus is promoting is not divided families, or unhappy homes, but instead Jesus is stating that he came to inaugurate a new type of family. The Christian family is one which is not united by genetics or marriage, but by the waters of Baptism and new life found in Jesus Christ. True family is not who sits around the table for Easter dinner, but the community which gathers around the bread and wine for Holy Communion. This is what we see beginning at the foot of the cross. At the point where Jesus is demonstrating the fullness of God’s love for humanity, Jesus demonstrates how we are to live that out. Mary had other sons, and the beloved disciple had a mother, but at the foot of the cross Jesus’ last act before he dies is to create a family. In a Christian family, people are not divided by their last name, but all are unified in the name of Christ. The Christian family certainly has its disagreements. Political, moral, and personal beliefs differ amongst us all, but they do not need to divide us. When we live our lives at the foot of the cross, we allow Jesus to form and shape our families as well as our lives. And it is only when Jesus gives us our chief identity as Christian that we can fully understand what value a family can be.
PRAYER: God who is our Father and Mother, thank you for adopting us into your family where we are all brothers and sisters. Help us to live as your children in peace with one another, and seeking to grow and mature in our love of You. AMEN