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Brothers and Sisters in Christ

6/7/2015 Second Sunday of Pentecost Text is Mark 3:20-35.

Grace and peace to you from God, our Father, and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Who are my mother and my brothers?  For those of us brought up within a family, this question is indeed an odd one.  We learn as babies who our parents happen to be.  Our mothers are those wonderful women who feed us, change our diapers, and as we grow in years, teach us many things we need to know, and even some things that we wish they didn’t have to tell us.

Who are our brothers and sisters?  Well, these are our rivals in the family.  These are the other children in the household, younger or older, who seem to get away with a little more than we can (or so it seems to us).  These are the special people who share the special relationship we have with our mother.  Whether we like our brothers and sisters or not, we are stuck with them and we have to learn how to live in harmony with them.  Whether we like our brothers and sisters or not, we are bonded to them for a life time.  We stick up for them when others pick on them.  We help them out when they are in trouble.  We love them for they are our family.

It is out of love and concern for Jesus that Mary and family come searching for Jesus.  They have heard the reports about his going out of his mind and they are worried.  They want to fetch him, to bring him back to his senses, and maybe even to teach him a lesson or two about who he really is (or should I say, who they think he really is).  But Jesus knows who he is….and for him, it is the connection to his heavenly Father, not his earth bound mother and brothers, which is important.  It is here that he finds his identity

In Jesus’ refusal to recognize his blood relatives, he informs his family that a rift has developed between him and them.  He is no longer just a carpenter’s apprentice or his mother’s first born son, or the older brother that his siblings are taught to respect.  He is his Father’s son and through his Father, a new relationship takes precedence.  His kinship is no longer centered on his mother, but on those who recognize that God’s will is truly being carried out in him.  Those who are certain that all their hopes and dreams for wholeness lie in him are his kin.  They are his brothers and sisters in the family of God.

It is quite a cast of characters that Jesus calls kin as the most unlikely individuals find themselves enjoying a love-filled relationship with him.  Some Galilean fishermen are the first called to be his closest associates.  Later, he calls a despised tax collector and other sorts of questionable individuals.  He warmly welcomes into his family members of the crowd who come from the regions beyond the Jordan River.  These are people who are considered to be enemies of God and yet they stand united with him.  It is incredible that Jesus stands united with those who live on the wrong side of the tracks, and sinners who need him the most.  Yet, for Jesus, brotherhood and sisterhood is not determined by bloodlines, by place of origin or by native tongue.  Kinship is determined by a common soul and spirit, a common faith in the God who intervenes in the life of people and chooses them to be his.  The bond is found in a common mission – to make known the good news of Christ through words that describe his love, and deeds that mirror his humble service.

We, who count ourselves among his disciples, his followers, are brothers and sisters to him and with each other.  In case you haven’t noticed, that means we have a big family as our family incorporates people of all nationalities and backgrounds, all colors and language.  It incorporates people like us, sinners all, in need of the grace and forgiveness which God provides through Christ Jesus our Lord.

It is the Holy Spirit which creates this unique family known as the church, and we can see that spirit at work as we look around this space.  Beyond our blood relatives and neighbors, seated among us are those whom we wouldn’t have much contact with except through the church.  Yet, because each of us is a brother or sister through Jesus our Savior, we can savor the family bond we share.

That family became a little larger as a new sister, Mia Albino, became a member of God’s family in the waters of baptism. I hope that she will remember (or at least be told about) the special relationship that began on that day when she became a child of God and a sister to Jesus and all of us.

In this special relationship we love one another as brothers and sisters.  We may not always like each other, but we watch out for each other.  We help each other when in need.  We pick each other when we are down.  We encourage one another to take the baby steps we need to become well or to take a leap of faith as we move out in new directions.  We inspire each other through the ways we live out our faith and carry out the family mission God has given us to share his love through words and deeds.  Yes, we may get discouraged when life throws us a curve, but we will not be crushed for God is with us each.  And if we should ever doubt this, all we need do is look at the faces of those around us.

We don’t have to live in a special place, or gather in a crystal cathedral, or have all our ducks in a row to be family.   Jesus has proclaimed us kin.  We did not choose this relationship.  Jesus chose it for us.  He made faith and participation in his mission signs of our kinship with him and each other.  We are connected to him through baptism.  We are nurtured by him in the bread and wine of communion.  And we are united to him and each other forever.

May we know our true family through the relationship we have in Jesus Christ our Lord, who called sinners, such as us, his brothers and sisters.  And may the peace of God, which surpasses all human understanding, keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  Amen.

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