Family issues & blessings. June 10 2018

Sunday June 10th, 2018.  “Family issues and blessings.”

Opening prayer & call to worship:

Pastor: The Holy Spirit of God calls us from many places: some of us come from busy homes with many people, some of us live alone. We are all members of God’s family. This week has been different for each of us; some of us have had happy news, we want to celebrate, some of us have faced grief and need to cry. We are all members of God’s family. Yet we all come to this same place; all of us seeking God’s presence in our lives. Together we become God’s family.

Call to Worship:

All:    We are the people of God. Together we are family.

Pastor: I am married, and single, and in a committed relationship. I was married, and never married, and married twice, and widowed.

All:    We are the people of God. Together we are family.

Pastor: I am older and younger, and in between, facing my first serious relationship, knowing the joy of love, enduring betrayal,  tasting the grief of a dying partner.

All:    We are the people of God. Together we are family.

Pastor: I am an only child and have ten siblings and have raised two children and no children.

I am part of a family, the human family the family of faith, my family of origin, the family of my choosing.

All:    We are the people of God. Together we are family.

Let us worship God together as family. Amen


Genesis 3 New International Version (NIV)

First Reading Genesis 3.8-15 The Fall

2.reading Genesis 3.16 - 24

Sermon: Family Issues & Blessings.

As many of you, I am an avid reader. One of my favorite times of relaxation and happiness is to find myself in a beach chair at the majesty Pacific Ocean with a good book in my hands.

I love reading fictional, biographical books, novels, short stories, essays, old classics, new trends, Theological, Religious books. I love diving into pages of stories about family, fates, fortunes, failures, feasts, friends, feuds, fires, fascination, and fairytales. Our book collection is grand and growing!

I just recently shared some of my latest joys of reading on Social Media – and I will share some of them with you today on Church Media.

“A Piece of the world” by Christine Baker Kline about a disabled young woman who becomes the center of a famous painting by Andrew Wyeth – and her life story and her relationship to her family.

“Little fires everywhere” by Celeste Ng. A Moving story about the conflicts of family and the different definition of how you belong to a family or become family.

“Fate and Furies.” By Laruen Groff . A fascination, profound and surprising story about relationships, marriages and families.

“The immortalists” by Chloe  Franklin. The best book of the year so far about fate and family, death and life, choices and challenges – and definitely about family issues and blessings.

Right now, I am reading about Seven Sisters and their quest to find their true family history after their adopted father dies and sends them on journeys to find the family and true descend.

Families are the finest fabric of great books. Just think about your favorite book, favorite TV show, favorite play or favorite movie: they deal with family matters don’t they? Family matters and issues in all the different shapes and forms they may come. For better and for worse our stories are shaped by our families as a blessed heavenly home or a cursed place we rather leave behind, - or something in between.   

·      How do we define family?

·      Which family values are important to us?

·      How did our personal family shape us and shape our concept of family?

·      What is my role in my family?

·      Is family even important to me?

·      Do I find my family else where than through blood line, - maybe among friends, or here in church?

·       Is your family a blessing? Or is it a curse?

·      Is your family the center of your identity? Or do you define yourself in opposition to your family?

From all of  these wonderful fictional books, from my favorite movies, plays and TV shows, I am assured that families are complicated and compassionate unions. As I know it from my own family setting.  Families are easy going or constant battlefields. Families are important to us, and we are within them. 

As a Danish family settled in US, as a modern Immigrant family, - we have our values and issues and blessings as all of you have. I feel blessed to have a loving family in Denmark, and such a loving caring church family as we are missing the daily contact with our birth family in Denmark. 

Today we listened to the story of Adam and Eve. About the first family, if you will. Genesis 3 is the compelling, fundamental, honest, story of the first family’s fall from grace.  The fascinating story about  Adam and Eve and their fall from grace as they ate from the tempting apple and their eyes opened to the endless blessings and curses of life. We heard about the enmity between the snake family and the human family, about the predestination and prediction of the Life East of Eden: painful child baring, the subversive call to women, hard physical labor and the many struggles for men to support their families. The issues and the blessings of the first family of faith, are still reflected in our families, in our struggles, in our lives East of Eden – which is by far one of the best American books every written by John Steinbeck about families.

Today, we also listened to the words of Jesus from Mark, pointing to another definition of family, when Jesus literary left his physical family behind and choose his family of faith. “Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.”

As Christians we often speak of family values and the importance of family. In the wake of the recent election this week, there were as always, many positions of family values and issues. These are good and important things, but then Jesus comes and turns his back on traditional family values and turns to his family of choice, his family of faith.  How do we heed these words? 

Families are the place for many issues and many blessings. Families can be defined in so many ways today, and I am sure we all have our own core values as a family. Children of today know that they and their friends in school and neighbors live in so many different family configurations: nuclear, foster, adopted, extended, immediate, blended, step, single, same gender parented, grand parented, to name just a few. Some children may suppose that their own family is the ideal: others may worry that their family is not normal: some might be envious and curios about how other families seem to work. 

Family is a single word, but it has so many implications, complications and meanings. But for better and worse the concept of family, the wish and longing for a family, the basic structure in our society, family is a word we all relate to. And as one of the funny quotes says: “Family: they drive you crazy, they drive you nuts, they drive you loony, but they drive you!” 

Family is an important aspect of our lives. They shape us, form us, instill values in us, make us rebel or discuss, they comfort us, they welcome us home, the judge us, they love us, - they really do drive us and drive us to be, who we are.

For most family is our blood relatives, but for some it is family by choice. Some might have to find a new family to restore faith in family; some might have to establish their own family. A group of close knit friends can be family. A church is like a family with loving grandparents, curious aunts, teasing uncles, grumpy teenagers, noisy kids and everything between. 

The funny Danish actor Helle Joof recently published her contempory 10 commandments. And in many ways all of them relate to how we live and act in our relationships, families, marriages, society etc.

1.     Greatest of all is love. It is more important than anything. Nourish love, so it does not whiter. Give thanks every time you meet love.

2.    Forgive your parents. They tried their very best. They too were once small kids with bruised knees and scared eyes. You will need to be forgiven too, when you one day will be met by the anger of your own children.

3.    You may get a divorce, if you married the wrong one. But if you married the right one, then try to give love a second chance. Maybe it is wrapped in a box with the winter clothes. Maybe you forgot it in your vacation house.

Hella Joof knows that life is love based. That families are love based. That forgiveness, second chances and reconciliation is love based. 

This is my family. We can all tell stories about our family. Some sweet and unforgettable moments. Some bittersweet and better forgotten. Some memories will fill your heart with gratitude others with sorrow and heartache. Some words remind you of the greatest kind of love, while others remind you of the worst kind of bitterness.

Families can be the very best – families can build you up, support you, comfort you and shape you.

Families can also be the very worst – families can tear you down, drain you, leave you heartbroken and leave you with out any sense of home.

Families are. We keep on reading books about them. We keep on watching TV show about them. Movies about them. And we keep on living in them and with them. Families are…. A fundamental fabric of our existence and society.

In Christian terminology Christ embraces the entire world as his potential family. Brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers, aunts and uncles, friends and strangers, come : you are my mother and my brother! Because who ever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother. Jesus is not saying that biological family isn't important; He is not dismissing His mother and brothers. What He is doing is making the clear theological point that in the Kingdom of Heaven, in our faith, the most important family connection is spiritual, not physical.

The parallels are quite clear. When we are born physically, we’re born into a physical family, but when we are "born again," when we are baptized and blessed,  we are born into a spiritual family. When we are adopted into God's spiritual family, the Church, God becomes our Father and Jesus our Brother. This spiritual family is not bound by ethnicity, gender or social standing. As Paul says, "You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise" (Galatians 3:26-29).

What binds the greater family of church together is faith, hope and love. That we believe in in the same God of love, that we believe in the same Christ who lived love, forgiveness and grace and that we believe in the same Holy Spirit that breathes grace and forgiveness into our very lives.

As we were just reminded here in church yesterday at the wonderful wedding uniting two families, two cultures,  and two people:  

Bear one another’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Bear with one another and, if one has a complaint against the other, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.

This is the definition of all relations.

This is the recipe for all relations, all families of blood, choice, or faith. This is what God tried to whisper in the ears of Adam and Eve, but the voice of the tempter and the sight of the wonderful apple made it hard to hear and see and understand.

This is what Jesus disclosed to his family and friends and followers, when he in fact did not turn his back on his relatives, but instead concluded all in his faith family of grace, forgiveness and love. AMEN