Family. That one word is an entire, boxed set of CD’s! And that one word establishes, restricts, releases, builds, tears down, encourages, discourages, shapes, squeezes, gives color to, or drains color from, a big part of our lives, including our lives as adults. What’s strange, I think, is that, early on, growing up within whatever context was ours, life was normative. It’s what we ‘knew.’ If we were poor, it just was. If we were a large family, it just was. If we were reserved, or raucous, or prim, or brash, or serious, or sarcastic, fastidiously polite or blunt and to the point, it just was. If we were orderly or chaotic, it just was. If the family next door was different from us, it was because they were, well, different! Before we acquired our own language skills, many, many ‘facts’ about us, our place, our importance, our contribution, our ‘good’ness (or lack of same) were instilled. Extended members of the family gave input as well, reinforcing messages or clearing up confusions. The family mood, or atmosphere, too, was a significant source of character formation. By the time we reached school age, a major percentage of future interactions with ‘our’ world were preset (hence, the shock for many of us, at having to unlearn much and relearn even more – and not just in academics – in order to make our way in this newly-expanded world filled with other, sometimes very varied, boxed sets of CD’s. Can you relate?)

In Jesus, we meet another family. His! By this point, we generally have gained basic family survival skills and are unaware of the many differences of this new world we’ve just encountered. Soon after meeting Jesus, we hear about his Father – another word that fills up a few CD’s of its own. The flood of images that single word, father, brings to mind will determine our level of openness to Jesus’ Father. In Christian/church circles, we receive varied messages about the Father, messages that we auto-filter from our upbringing. (Can I just say, it’s crazy how complicated it is to re-wire our brains as adults in order to really and truly receive the message that the Father sees us and knows us and chooses us and loves us? I’m still a work in progress). We’re encouraged to ‘talk’ with the Father. It’s called praying, and depending on how ‘talks’ went with our father/father figure, we’ll set out, or not, on that footing. Gets pretty dicey for some of us! Of course, that’s why we’re talking about prayer tomorrow. See you at 10 AM, 3 PM, 4 PM.  PD

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