Families are like fudge—mostly sweet, with a few nuts.—Les Dawson
If minutes were kept of a family gathering, they would show that members not present and subjects discussed were one and the same.—Robert Brault
Family is a blessing. Just keep saying that when you are irritated by something a family member says.—Marcelina Hardy
These funny sayings about family hopefully help to remind us that no family is “normal.” Every family has its eccentricities, struggles and disagreements. If you are part of a family who can support and respect each other through the disagreements, you should count yourself lucky (and I celebrate that with you)! Instead, what I’m hearing more and more these days is that the incredibly charged political moment we’ve experienced these last few years has created disagreement and alienation within families. What I hear people saying is that they are spending less time with their families or are making some topics (like politics or religion) off limits when they are together. What I’m hearing is that families are less able to accept one another because of difference, and in some manner, that’s okay—or at least expected. Jesus struggled with this, too. The scriptures of Jesus dealing with his family have spoken to me loudly and clearly through these past years. I need to be reminded of them, and perhaps you do, too—like in Mark 6:4, when Jesus says that a prophet has honor everywhere except in his own hometown and in his own family. I’m not calling any of us a prophet, but I am saying that sometimes living the gospel means your family won’t accept you. (Hopefully, this is just for a time). Another example is Mark 3:31-35 when Jesus’s family comes to take him away from his preaching (They think he’s crazy!), and Jesus points to those around him and says, “These are my mother, brothers and sisters—whoever does the will of God!”
This is what I need to hear today—family is what you make it, and what God makes it. Family can be something very different from the “nuclear family” we’ve been taught to uphold and protect. Family can be a marriage between a woman and a man, or a man and a man, or a woman and a woman. Family can have no kids or 10 kids. Family can be united by blood or adoption or foster care. Family can have one parent or a grandparent at the helm. Family can be a group of friends that know you better than anyone else. Family can change over time, and indeed, it must change with time. Family can be your church. I don’t take it lightly when I speak of our “church family.” I know that for many of us, this church holds most of the people in this world who see us the way God sees us, when our family of origin refuses or is unable to see us this way. Sometimes the will of God is that we make a new family through the kinship of Jesus Christ. Family is what you make it.
Speaking of family, I want to mention an opportunity for you to care for this family that is much bigger than blood or obligation: Vaccination! In two weeks, our church will move to a “masks optional” policy, where masks will no longer be required for those who are vaccinated. This will be on the honor policy. If you decide to come unmasked, please make sure you have been vaccinated! I ask you this to care for our children (like Hattie and Wilder who are too young to be vaccinated) and for the persons in our church family who for medical reasons cannot be vaccinated. If you qualify, please get vaccinated. The info is here about where to get vaccinated (https://scdhec.gov/covid19/covid-19-vaccine). All COVID-19 vaccines are free to the consumer. If you are asked for insurance information, it is because some insurers are helping to offset the cost to the supplier. Also, there are some incentives out there to get you excited (https://www.vaccines.gov/incentives.html). You can even get the vaccine administered in your home if you are homebound by calling DHEC at 866.365.8110. Only about 40% of folks in Greenville County are fully vaccinated at this point, so let’s do our part to protect our church family and the larger Greenville community.