Posted: 21 December 2015

Advent: ‘Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?’

The Christmas season is commonly held as a time for family. So each week our Advent calendar includes a reflective piece from Krish Kandiah exploring the biblical view of family.

 

One of the busiest church services is under a week away. But the church is more than an event, a gathering, or a place to hear preaching or even to receive the sacraments. The church is also to be a family, the household of God. Christians are described as God’s adopted children, brothers and sisters in Christ, unified by the Spirit who is our bond of peace. Older women are to be like mothers to us, younger women like sisters, older men like fathers and younger men like brothers. The metaphor of the church as family must inform both its theology and practice. In fact the church family relativises blood ties as we see when Jesus responded to the disciple that informed him that his mother and brothers were at the door:

' "Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?" Pointing to his disciples, he said: "Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother".' (Matthew 12:48–50) 

Again, when speaking of those who through persecution would be estranged from their families, Jesus held that the church is to function as a substitute family for those that lose theirs due to persecution. For some, church has become a provider of religious services, a spectator event or a necessary penance. The church is called to be the community of faith – the household of God.

 

Can you think of anyone within your church who isn’t treated like part of the church family? With such a focus around family in the next few days, are you in danger of idolising your biological family? Or do unrealistic views of the ideal family Christmas create further friction with your family?

This piece is one adapted section of Krish’s essay ‘Six theological theses on the family and poverty’ in our theology paper, ‘The Heart of the Kingdom: Christian theology and children who live in poverty’.



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