Next month, the Pope convenes The World Meeting of Families in Philidelphia, the City of Brotherly Love. Well over a million people are expected in attendance. It’s a big stage…but the subject of the gathering is much larger than massive crowd anticipated, but also infinitely smaller: The Family. The conference calls the family, “the sanctuary of love and life”.
There will be more than a few Anglicans in attendance… to observe, speak, and participate. These leaders, and others, can help our own Anglican movement understand and celebrate what God has done in the human family. Here are a few thoughts of my own:
- The human family is the first ‘after-market’ idea that God had…and into which he sent his Son to live! As the story is told in Genesis, God rested on the seventh day…but then, it seems, had one more thought: Let us add something else; something great and glorious. Let us make a family! (Enter Eve.)
- God’s love of the human family is displayed across the pages of entire bible as well. The commandment to honor parents is the only one (Paul reminds us) that contains the promise of a blessing for those obey: that it may go well with you.
- At a deep level, the stories of the Old Testament are all about families in the ancient world and their struggles to remain faithful to God and His call. All of the Old Testament families were dysfunctional at some level…but God used them to carry the faith from one generation to another.
- In fact, the family is the most robust vehicle for the transmission of the faith from one generation to another. The practice that God commands to the fathers of Moses’ generation is surely there to carry the faith forward. The Shema, (see Deut 8) was the Faith in a nutshell…or a box, as it were…and it was to be taught to the children by their fathers and the mothers.
- Speaking of the role of parents, consider these questions: Where did Jesus get his knowledge of the Scriptures? The Lord lifts whole quotes from our Old Testament 24 times. How did he know these passages? Where did he get this biblical understanding?Here, the New Testament silently honors the parents of his Holy Family. It was his earthly mother and father who wonderfully, thoroughly, and humbly schooled their son, God’s own Son, in the Scriptures and the faith he knew so intuitively and deeply. This is a profound mystery, indeed.
- Further, the New Testament gives special honor to the sanctity of the family, even when it is not the “Leave it to Beaver” model, the supposedly ‘nuclear family’. In John’s Gospel, Jesus builds a new form of a family from the cross; a family made of believers who are related to him not by blood or birth, but by God. The vision set forth in John 1:13 is realized in John 19:26. Again, this is a profound mystery: they are a new family under Christ their Lord.
- Even Paul, whose family and lineage are unknown (although we learn he had a nephew in Acts 23:16), pays highest honors to a woman who was like a mother to him. “Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord; also his mother, who has been a mother to me as well.” (Romans 16:13)
The bottom line is this: the family should be celebrated, guarded, protected, empowered, upheld and uplifted for the prominence and the power that God envisions for it. It is under siege these days. We know that. But even through all of the danger and dysfunction of the bible world, the family was the platform on which the great drama of God’s plan was revealed.
The family is central to the gospel and to its proclamation in this and every age.
In our own Anglican family, there are catechists, family ministers, educators, clergy, program leaders, and of course, parents who are thinking about these things too. They are gathering together (in a much smaller venue) to form the first of what is hoped to be a long-standing learning community with our ACNA movement.
We all should want this Anglican Family movement to succeed. They will gather at Christ Church, Plano in October for the first symposium on the subject. A compelling video forms the basis of their appeal and registration is open.
Who: Clergy, catechists and lay leaders
What: Anglican Family Symposium 2015
Theme: The Domestic Church: Family Catechesis in Contemporary Society
When: October 15-17, 2015
Where: Christ Church, Plano
Cost: $125 (church planter and group discounts available)
For more information or to register, please visit www.AnglicanFamily.com.