From time to time I’ve thought about what Jesus said when someone told him that his mother and brothers were outside waiting to speak to him. “So who are my mother and brothers?” he asked. And then he answered his own question: “Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother – and my family.” (Matthew 12:46-50)
In my August 16, 2010 blog, I wrote about being in Greece to celebrate my friend John’s 90th birthday. At his party, John talked about the importance of having friends and family, and how much that had meant to him over the years. He said it was one of the most important parts of his life. So it was wonderful when John and his wife Nancy introduced me as part of their “family.” Whenever I spent time with them over the 30 years we knew each other, I felt totally accepted as a member of their family – whether we were working in the South Pacific (where John was the American Ambassador and where we first met) or in their garden pruning olive trees or swimming in the Aegean Sea or eating Nancy’s delicious meals seasoned with olive oil (from their own trees).
After John’s birthday party, I looked up the definition of family and found there were many including this one: two or more people who share goals and values and have long-term commitments to one another. I really like this definition; it speaks to me. I love and appreciate the members of my own biological family with whom I share a common ancestry. But I can also be a part of other families because we share common values and goals.
This past Christmas John left this universe and his wife Nancy (of over 60 years). It’s been difficult for Nancy; it’s not easy to lose someone precious who has been in your life for over 60 years. So for the last week, I’ve been spending time with Nancy in their home in France sharing stories, gardening, and just hanging out with her. I knew that as a part of John and Nancy’s “family” it was important for me to just be there.
Yes, I am grateful that I am a part of John and Nancy’s family and also a part of other families who share goals, values, and commitments. And I agree with Jesus: “Whoever loves God is my family.” After all, we are all children of God; so every one of us is a member of God’s family. Now that’s a rather awesome thought.
Beloved God, may we remember that you are our parent, that no matter what we do or how we act, we are always your children and members of your family. We need your guidance and help to be children worthy of this honor that you have bestowed upon us. Thank you for being our compassionate parent. Amen.