Family bonds not based on flesh and blood
Over recent years, while we have been enjoying Christmas with family and friends, Australian Defence Force personnel have been deployed overseas carrying out dangerous missions, in places like Afghanistan and Iraq.
When we’ve turned on our TV’s to catch the evening news on Christmas Day, we have seen images of troops getting into the festive season by tucking into Christmas Dinner dressed in Santa hats and costumes.
They have also sent televised messages to their family and friends back home. I remember one televised message where a soldier said that he was celebrating Christmas with family, just not with his blood family back home. He said that his fellow soldiers had become his family in Afghanistan.
This illustrates the fact that when people are there for one another through thick and thin, and when they’ve carried each other’s burdens, family bonds can develop that don’t necessarily run through flesh and blood.
When we read the gospel accounts we see Jesus calling people into a new community, not based on bonds of flesh and blood but on faith and love. We are part of that new family. Our Baptism put us in a much larger family, the church.
When we look around our St John’s community we see an odd assortment of people with different names, from both north and south sides of Canberra, with different backgrounds, employment, histories and ages.
Despite all our differences we are sisters and brothers in Christ. We are a family, which is not based on the bonds of blood and nationality. Belonging to a church puts us in a relationship with people whom we would not have known without Christ.
It’s difficult to remain part of Jesus’ family in today’s secular world in isolation from other Christians. We need the support, the friendship and the encouragement of one another to live out the Christian life. We need a family, a community, a church!
We are part of Christ’s family, baptized in his name, empowered by his Spirit, fed with his body and blood, and like those first disciples, we are sent out to heal, to help others and to build God’s Kingdom.
Thanks be to God. Amen.
Photo: Meal in the Robertson Room after stjohns@6