Dwelling in God’s word: what is family?
What is ‘family’? There are many different definitions, but a simple Google search suggests:
- A group of one or more parents and their children living together as a unit
- All the descendants of a common ancestor
- A group of related things …
I have a weird family … Six children. Four different fathers and only two of them were my husbands. Only one of them fathered one of my children! Three stepchildren, two adopted children and one biological son. My first husband had one child when I married him. We then had a son and then adopted two boys from Ethiopia. My second husband had two adult children – one of them was his stepson. Confused?? Not to mention my skin name and indigenous children. (I spent several years working at Ntaria/Hermannsburg.) What a blend!!
What picture comes to mind when you hear the word family?
Families come in all shapes and sizes – large, small, harmonious, separated, broken, blended and single. Think and/or share about your family.
Maybe we don’t all have that happy family snap or the ‘mum, dad and “pigeon-pair” children’ as our reality. Thankfully, God understands.
Think about some of the families in Jesus’ family tree. Sometimes we ‘glossify’ our pictures of Jesus and his life, but when we dig a little deeper, we find grit, dirt and even shame or embarrassment.
Read Matthew 1:18–25. Read Luke 1:35.
What would it have been like for Mary? Joseph?
Pregnant and not married. Think about where Jesus
was born. A dirty, stinky stable.
Why were they on their own at such a special time?
Who were the first to hear and celebrate?
Do you know people who have begun family in unexpected ways?
Jesus was part of a blended family. Joseph was his stepfather. And we know that he had half-brothers and sisters. I wonder what it was like living with a brother without sin. We don’t know a lot about Jesus’ family life, but we do know that the shape of his family changed.
Read John 19:25–27.
Think about what this means for Jesus’ mother and his siblings. What does this mean for you?
Have you ever been part of another family in a special way or a special time?
Not only do I have stepchildren, but also two boys I adopted. They joined my family from a different country and culture. But even though they have different coloured skin and a different history, when they joined my family, they became my sons. They are in my will. I will love and defend them and always want the best for them.
It makes me think of what God says about us.
Read Ephesians 1:5,6 (The Message) and Galatians 4:4–7 (The Message).
How does it make you feel?
And then there’s the time in Matthew 12:46–50 where it seems that Jesus disowns his own blood family! But I think this is where he begins painting a picture of a future family – one that goes beyond ‘human blood’ and is bound together by his blood – as brothers and sisters in Christ.
Read Acts 2:5–12; Acts 12:5 and Galatians 3:28.
How does this relate to a bigger picture of family?
The reality is that anytime you have people in the same place/space relating to each other, there will be challenges and joys. There are different histories, values, perspectives, and yet, when bound by a common thread and able to grow in knowing, respecting and loving each other, we can become family.
What light does 1 Corinthians 13 shed on how to do this?
PRAYER: God, thank you that you are our Father – to us, this motley bunch of people. Loved by you, accepted by you, united in you, gifted by you … and invited by you to love others as you love us: open-heartedly, as family. Amen.
Julie Krause is married to Jonathan and mum to Josiah, TJ and AJ and stepmum to Lisa, Glen and Alli-Jayne. A member at Seaford Lutheran Church SA, she’s a Community Action Officer with ALWS.