Let us see if we agree on what St. Paul meant when he wrote to the Galatians, “Let us work for the good of all, and especially for those in the family of faith.” It is easy to use a metaphor such as family and think that everyone is thinking of the same things. But, I know that not everyone gets a warm, fuzzy feeling deep inside when they think of the notion of family.
To say that a congregation ought to strive to be a family of faith is to, as St. Paul clearly says, look for the good in every person. There are enough among us who came from families where the exact opposite has happened. Siblings fought (and probably into adulthood are still fighting about rank, privilege, or money). Parents sided with one child more than another. (Little Suzy could do no wrong and little Bobby could do no right.) These kinds of memories of families might make St. Paul’s invitation to be loving “family of faith” an emotional challenge.
I hope we can get past some of the memories or current frustrations that the metaphor of “family” might be causing us, because there is a grand purpose in being the right kind of family in a world in which it is impossible to go it alone.
The first mark of a healthy family is that a person can freely become who they were created to be. In a healthy family, the members pour great energy into the task of looking for the good in each member. In a healthy family, each member has an outward focus: the other people in the family have to be having a good day or I am not having a good day. In a healthy family, there are many words of praise and support spoken. When correction is needed, these words are spoken lovingly and always constructively.
A second mark of a healthy family is that there is a shared sense of purpose—that what is important to one is important to all. It doesn’t mean that there can’t be different opinions about things, but to speak of a shared purpose means that the work of day of an individual will lead to furthering a sense of “we are doing well together.”
The Sundays in November will be Sabbath days in which members of Beaver Valley will be asked to re-commit to the forward progress of our family of faith. The invitation will be, starting on November 4th and extending all the way through the November 25th Thanksgiving Sunday, for each member to walk to the front of the church their Time and Talents response form as well as their Statements of Intent for our financial support of our church family’s work for 2019. All month long, when the offering is being taken, members will have the chance to honor the words of God that come to us from the pen of St. Paul—that our best efforts in life are first for our own family, so that we, together, can be strong in going on with our work for this world.
Committed to you,
Pastor Greg Johnson