Sunday, January 01, 2012

This Week’s Focus: Thicker than water

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us." So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger.  When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them. After eight days had passed, it was time to circumcise the child; and he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb. Luke 2:15-21
Dear Friends,

We don’t get to pick our relatives. But we do get to pick our family. Most relatives share common ancestors, a marriage contract, a DNA profile and an address. A family has got all that and a lot more. A family shares mutual commitment, common values and unconditional love. Relatives can seem like a string of random accidents living under one roof. Families are a deliberate labor of love.

While the difference is hardly subtle, far too many fail to make a distinction. They are lonely strangers related to other lonely strangers. While they may share living space, they have entirely separate commitments, priorities and agendas. From the quantity and quality of their communications, they even speak different languages.

You can blame the rift on economics or the internet, computer games or rap music. I’m told that fifty years ago they blamed it all on television and Dr. Spock. Sixty years back, the culprits were comic books and the radio. While they may be symptoms, they are not causes. You can trace it all to the empty place at the table…the forgotten brother…the misplaced model of family love. Jesus has been crowded out of the family. He’s become the inconvenient cousin we’re obliged to visit on holidays. He’s the kindly uncle we only go to when we’re in trouble. Or he’s the angry patriarch reminding us that we messed up again.

Wherever we’ve hidden him, Jesus is not where he ought to be – the focus of our family—a palpable presence giving a common purpose and direction to our daily lives. But don’t expect Jesus to show up uninvited at your table like Banquo’s ghost. As individuals and as a family, we have to ask him in every day.

“The family that prays together, stays together.” It’s a golden oldie from the 40’s. But it is a time tested, guaranteed, winning formula for happy families. Who gives the guarantee? Jesus does: For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I. The power of Christ in our midst is the most transformational force the world has ever known. With him all things are possible – hope, meaningful sharing, mutual forgiveness, growth and healing. Without him, why not flick on the flat screen and try to get through this life with as little interruption as possible? The choice is yours. Relatives or family? Choose Jesus. Choose family. And the blessings will cascade for you and yours from generation to generation.

Start today. Make room in your day for family time with Jesus…maybe before or after a meal. Keep it simple. Tell your family where you want to go with this. Ask for their help. Ask Jesus for his help with a family problem. Have your Bible handy. Share some scriptural inspiration. Be honest. Be loving. Be patient. Be faithful. Set up a schedule for prayer and sharing. Keep at it. It works if you work it. Then get ready to get happy. A family truly living in Christ’s love is the greatest joy this side of heaven.

Faithfully yours in Christ’s love, 

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