May 10, 2020

What makes us family?

Preacher:
Passage: Hebrews 12:1-12 and John 10:22-30

The rights to music under licence: CCLI: 1963748

Fifth Sunday of Easter

Call to Worship
Hymn: Simply trusting every day
Simply trusting every day, trusting through a stormy way
Even when my faith is small, trusting Jesus that is all.

CHORUS: Trusting as the moments fly, trusting as the days go by,
Trusting him whate’er befall, trusting Jesus, that is all.

Brightly doth his Spirit shine into this poor heart of mine
While he leads I cannot fall, trusting Jesus, that is all.
CHORUS:

Singing, if my way be clear, praying, if the path be drear
If in danger for him call, trusting Jesus, that is all.
CHORUS:

Trusting him while life shall last, trusting him till earth be past,
Till within the jasper wall, trusting Jesus, that is all.
CHORUS:

Prayer of Adoration and Confession
Assurance of Pardon

Family Hymn: I’m Gonna live so God can use me
I’m gonna live so God can use me, anywhere, Lord, anytime!
I’m gonna live so God can use me, anywhere, Lord, anytime!

I’m gonna work so God can use me, anywhere, Lord, anytime!
I’m gonna work so God can use me, anywhere, Lord, anytime!

I’m gonna pray so God can use me, anywhere, anytime!
I’m gonna pray so God can use me, anywhere, anytime!

I’m gonna sing so God can use me, anywhere, anytime!
I’m gonna sing so God can use me, anywhere, anytime!

Time with our Children

Prayer for Understanding

Scripture: Hebrews 12:1-12

1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us,
2 looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God.
3 Consider him who endured such hostility against himself from sinners, so that you may not grow weary or lose heart.
4 In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.
5 And you have forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as children— "My child, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, or lose heart when you are punished by him;
6 for the Lord disciplines those whom he loves, and chastises every child whom he accepts."
7 Endure trials for the sake of discipline. God is treating you as children; for what child is there whom a parent does not discipline?
8 If you do not have that discipline in which all children share, then you are illegitimate and not his children.
9 Moreover, we had human parents to discipline us, and we respected them. Should we not be even more willing to be subject to the Father of spirits and live?
10 For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share his holiness.
11 Now, discipline always seems painful rather than pleasant at the time, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
12 Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees,

John 10:22-30
22 At that time the festival of the Dedication took place in Jerusalem. It was winter,
23 and Jesus was walking in the temple, in the portico of Solomon.
24 So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, "How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly."
25 Jesus answered, "I have told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father's name testify to me;
26 but you do not believe, because you do not belong to my sheep.
27 My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me.
28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one will snatch them out of my hand.
29 What my Father has given me is greater than all else, and no one can snatch it out of the Father's hand.
30 The Father and I are one."

HYMN: He leadeth me
He leadeth me, oh blessed thought! Oh words with heavenly comfort fraught!
Whate’er I do, where’er I be, still ‘tis God’s hand that leadeth me.

CHORUS: He leadeth me! He leadeth me! By his own hand he leadeth me!
A faithful follower I would be, for ‘tis God’s hand that leadeth me.

Sometimes ‘mid scenes of deepest gloom, sometimes where Eden’s flowers bloom,
By waters still, o’er troubled sea, still ‘tis God’s hand that leadeth me!
CHORUS:

Lord, I would clasp thy hand in mine, nor ever murmur nor repine,
Content, whatever lot I see since ‘tis my God that leadeth me!
CHORUS:

And when my task on earth is done, when by thy grace the victory’s won
E’en death’s cold wave I will not flee, since God through Jordan leadeth me.
CHORUS:

The Message: What makes us family? – John 10:22-30

What makes us family? My grandmother often said:“We can’t choose our family; thank God we can choose our friends”. My grandmother said this not so much because her family experience was negative but because we do not always get along with our natural family members. Many people find that they develop closer bonds with people not in their natural family and often come to refer to them as their brothers or sisters, aunts or uncles or whatever other term might best describe the relationship. So, while we have a definition of family based on blood relationships, we find that we will also have other definitions of family.

Of course, we know that a simple definition of family is not as simple as it sounds. Just the physical makeup of families today is more diverse than at any time of history. The relationships between the individuals in any family may or may not match the relationships in another family. For each of us, our understanding of family comes from the example of those in our lives who have had the greatest influence on our thinking and behaviour; and when we marry someone – if that be our decision or choice – we will discover our understanding of family challenged as we encounter people whose concept of family may differ from our own.

Here is something else to consider. Every family has its culture just as every organization and group that we are part of in life has a culture. The families we are born into share that culture with us. And – to a greater or lesser extent – that culture will remain a part of us for the rest of our lives. Every time we start a new phase in our lives – be it school, work or social activities – we encounter a new culture. We may be able to change the culture to one that more closely reflects our comfort zone. We may find that there are aspects of the new culture that we cannot accept and that may cause us to not feel secure in the group and we will no doubt eventually drop out.

What we experience of family as we grow influences our own ideas about family and will influence the decisions we make around our own families. Patterns for behaviour and thought that have been taught to us by word and example by our parents continue to be part of us and have an influence on our choices in life.

Most of us have an ideal in our minds when it comes to family. As children, many of us may have experienced what we believe to be an ideal family but for many more the reality is far from the ideal presented to us through the media. Family is a messy business! Yet in spite of the reality that many of us have come from ideal families, we often find ourselves in less than ideal situations as we strive to create an environment where we can live our lives in relative peace and harmony while dealing with the various personalities and competing agendas that fill our daily lives.

Passing judgement on others because their family does not reflect the ideal that society wants is not something new to this time. Even in Jesus’ day, people were marginalized, persecuted, and even killed for not following or upholding the definition of family.

It is unfortunate that Jesus did not leave us a blueprint for family by detailing all the different forms that family could take. He focused on relationships that he was asked questions about. For the rest we have had to seek the guidance of God through the Holy Spirit to provide us with the answers we seek as we struggle to understand the complex nature of our own physical, psychological, emotional and spiritual being and how we can relate to one another in positive and affirming ways.

Much of what Jesus did teach about family and relationships had more to do with our new family – the one that we were being called into regardless of our earthly family. That new family that Jesus spoke of was one that was to transcend all the concepts and experiences of family that we may have had in this life. The Apostle John even goes so far as to tell us that every one of us will experience adoption into the family of God – regardless of how we have come into this world and regardless of what status our family may have had in this world.

But we are given clues to the image of family that Jesus alluded to. At one point it is pointed out to Jesus that his mother and brothers are in the crowd. The expectation was that he would leave the crowd and go with them. His response was to say that those who did the will of the Father were his mother and brothers. At the time of his crucifixion, Jesus looks at John and tells him that Mary will now be his mother and that John will be her son. In our present passage from John’s Gospel, Jesus declares that those who hear his voice and respond are part of the family of God. While the words are not directly spoken, there is an implied understanding. These accounts reveal to us that family for Jesus was more than a blood relation. For Jesus, family had more to do with real living relationships than with some inherited right.

One of the most famous passages of Scripture which is often read at marriage services is from 1 Corinthians 13 where Paul speaks of the qualities of love and of its importance over any attributes a person could ever have. It really is a description of the ideal that we are to strive for in our relationships both within our natural families but also in those relationships which we form with people in our faith community and social and business contacts. Our love is never to be conditional upon the response of the other person. We are not to do unto others only as they do unto us.And Paul does not encourage us to be patient and kind only to those who are patient and kind to us.

In a world where so many struggle to find a positive family relationship, God reveals a new family with a new vision. He invites any and all people to embrace this new family and trust that it will bean accepting and supportive community. God’s intention is to give us a model for family that transcends our blood relationships and encourages us to create a community of mutual respect. God’s intention is that we be ever mindful of the needs of one another and encourage each of us to be confident of the support and have genuine affection for one another. God’s intention is that we learn to create and maintain an environment where each person can feel physically, emotionally, and spiritually secure.

What makes us family? It is our decision to see ourselves in relationship with one another; it is our decision to believe that while we are not related by our own blood, we are related through the blood of Jesus Christ. We can choose to become brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers, sons, and daughters to one another in the new family to which we are all invited by Jesus. May we find ourselves guided by the words of John, of Paul and of Jesus as we seek ever more to be a part of the family of God.

AMEN

Invitation to the Offering
Prayer of Dedication
Prayers of Thanksgiving and Intercession
The Lord’s Prayer

HYMN: One more step along the world I go
One more step along the world I go. One more step along the world I go
From the old things to the new keep me traveling along with you.
And it’s from the old I travel to the new. Keep me traveling along with you.

Round the corners of the world I turn. More and more about the world I learn
All the new things that I see you’ll be looking at along with me.
And it’s from the old I travel to the new. Keep me traveling along with you.

As I travel through the bad and good keep me traveling the way I should.
Where I see no way to go, you’ll be telling me the way, I know.
And it’s from the old I travel to the new. Keep me traveling along with you.

Give me courage when the world is rough, keep me loving though the world is tough
Leap and sing in all I do. Keep me traveling along with you.
And it’s from the old I travel to the new. Keep me traveling along with you.

You are older than the world can be. You are younger than the life in me.
Ever old and ever new, keep me traveling along with you.
And it’s from the old I travel to the new. Keep me traveling along with you.

Benediction