When I was in my midthirties, I took a sabbatical year and volunteered for an organization called International Child Care in Santiago, Dominican Republic. My coworkers and neighbors there expressed surprise that I wasn’t married and had no children. The lay leader at the church I attended couldn’t figure out in which small group I would participate. The small groups included a group for married couples, a group for widows, and a group for young people. I didn’t have a spouse. I was too young for the widows group. I was advised to attend the group for young people. Though I liked being considered a “young adult,” these young people were college age. I still attended church, but I didn’t attend the small group.
“Do you have a family?” continues to be one of the first questions raised when someone meets me. I watch as a cloud of disappointment crosses their faces when I tell them I’m divorced and don’t have children. They don’t know how to place me or where I fit.
I have found belonging through Christian community. My best friends include a married straight couple in their early sixties, a single woman in her fifties, a gay man in his late forties, and a mother raising two boys under five.
When Jesus states, “Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother,” he invites us to rethink our identity and our primary place of belonging. We may be a son or daughter, a brother or sister, a mother or father—but according to Jesus our primary identity is child of God, disciple of Jesus. In Christian community we receive the gift of family that transcends categories people might assign.
Loving God, help us live out our identity as your children. May we create communities of love, support, and forgiveness—true family. Amen.
We sometimes struggle to believe in the power of a God we cannot see. The psalmist declares that God is greater than any earthly king and will preserve us in the face of our enemies. However, in the time of Samuel, the Israelites demanded a human king to lead them into battle, as other nations had. God was not enough for them. Paul admonishes the Corinthians not to repeat this mistake. We should not think that what we can see is the ultimate reality. What we see is temporary; what cannot be seen is eternal. Perhaps Jesus is teaching a similar idea in this somewhat troubling passage in Mark. Jesus is not against family, but he is emphasizing that human families are temporary; spiritual family is eternal.
• Read 1 Samuel 8:4-20. How influenced by culture and neigh-
bors are you? How do you attempt to keep your priorities aligned with God’s reign?
• Read Psalm 138. How do you evaluate the “gods” in your life? How do you recognize when those gods have gained control of your life?
• Read 2 Corinthians 4:13–5:1. When life’s circumstances over-
whelm you, how do you avoid losing heart?
• Read Mark 3:20-35. Who is your spiritual family? Whom do you identify as your brothers, sisters, mother and father?
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