Welcome to the family!
In today’s Gospel reading (Luke 8:19-21), we have a brief snapshot of Jesus’ family and how his family members react to his ministry. This story is told in three of the Gospels. In Mark, it is a little harsher view. Jesus’ mother and brothers come to see him to “take charge of him” because they are alarmed about what he is saying and the attention that he is drawing. The family is lumped in with the teachers of the law who say that Jesus is possessed by a demon. The family is “outside” (both literally and figuratively) when they send someone in to call Jesus. Jesus looks at the people seated in the circle around him and says: “Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.”
In Luke’s Gospel, Jesus has just told the crowd the parable of the Sower, emphasizing “he who has ears to hear, let him hear.” Seed sown on good soil stands for those who hear the word, retain it, and put it to work to produce a good crop. When Jesus’ family come to see him–no mention this time about trying to take charge of him–they can’t reach him because of the crowd. Jesus concludes his parable teaching by telling his listeners that those who hear God’s word and put it into practice are his family.
So, what does it mean for us to be part of Jesus’ family?
All of us in this room come from very different backgrounds and have had very different life experiences but we all have personally experienced some sort of family. It may have been a warm, loving, nurturing family. It may have been an unhappy, dysfunctional, or even abusive family. Whatever your personal situation might have been or still is, your family has helped form you into the person you are today. Being part of Jesus’ family means that your faith family also helps form you, giving you opportunities to learn, serve, grow, even occasionally fail, but always to experience the risen Lord in and with the community around you.
We make the decision to follow Christ on our own but we are not meant to live that way. True, there are extraordinary situations where Christians are called to live out their faith in solitude but for most of us, it is vital to live in community with other Christians. Other Christians aren’t any more or less perfect than you are, so living with them can be (and often is) a messy prospect. When we baptize someone in the Episcopal church, we promise together that we will:
- Continue in the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in the prayers
- Persevere in resisting evil and whenever we fall into sin, repent and return to the Lord
- Proclaim by word and example the Good News of God in Christ
- Seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbor as yourself
- Strive for justice and peace among all people and respect the dignity of every human being.
And that’s community! That is the life you have been called to here at St Anselm’s, whether you live here at the Chapel Center or are a part of our worshiping community. We are a part of the household of God together, brothers and sisters with Jesus.
May we learn to love one another
support each other
and grow up together
to be the people God is calling us to be.
St Anselm’s Chapel
September 23, 2014