Our Ordinary Time 2011 newspaper is now online. Be sure to read it and let us know what you think.
Ordinary Time 2011
Also, below is an article from that paper.
We're Not Friends, We're Family
This might be hard to fathom, but I have a brother who is thirty-eight and a half years older than me. He is sixty-five and I am twenty-seven. We have become quite close over the last few years. When introducing my older brother, Gary, to others I often refer to him as my friend because of how awkward it might sound to call him my brother. When I do this, Gary quickly puts me in my place, like the older brother that he is, insisting to others and reminding me that, “we are not friends, we are brothers.”
Well, if you haven’t figured it out yet, Gary is not my biological ‘bro’. I have known Gary for about two and a half years. However, he claims that we have known each other for at least five to ten. Sometimes Gary claims that we have known each other even longer saying that I, along with everyone else at Cherith Brook, was the one that got him saved when he was a “no good adolescent rebel wandering the streets looking for trouble.” I try to explain that it couldn’t have been me, but he insists, “yes it was you, Josh…and Jodi, and Micah, and Eric, and Nick, and Elisabeth…” So I just respond, “Well, it’s a good thing you’re not wandering around causing hell like you used to.” He agrees. Gary, my older brother, and I go way back, longer than I can remember.
Living at Cherith Brook has caused me to re-think family. As I have given myself to this place and this community, I have wrestled with the truth that in order to be rooted here, I must let go of some family loyalties. (Don’t worry mom, I’m not divorcing my family). Family is something that Jesus re-defined for us during his public ministry on earth in a time when biological family was the most important institution in society. The Hebrew people had been repeatedly reminded that, “God would bless the entire world through the children, the lineage, of this specific people Israel.” (Rodney Clapp, Families at the Crossroads) It was through the family that the Hebrew people believed they would receive God’s richest blessings. So in the Gospel of Mark when Jesus’ family had become upset at his public activity, thinking that he had gone mad (Mark 3:21), they came to bring him home. “And a crowd was sitting around him, and they said to him, ‘Your mother and your brothers are outside seeking you.’ And he answered them, ‘Who are my mother and my brothers?’ And looking about at those who sat around him, he said, ‘Here are my mother and brothers. Whoever does the will of God, he or she is my brother and sister and mother.’” (Mark 3:32-35) Jesus is teaching us something new about family. In the reign of God that has come with Jesus, family means something entirely different for those who “do the will of God.” In the book Jesus and Community, Gerhard Lohfink says,
“Jesus relativized all of this: clan, parents, children, land. It is possible, in some circumstances even necessary, to leave all this behind. This is not done for the sake of renunciation, as if renunciation were something positive in itself, but rather because something new is appearing, the reign of God is arriving. Its arrival changes everything. Those who follow Jesus, who for the sake of the reign of God leave behind everything they have had, become a new family, a family in which, paradoxically, there are again brothers, sisters, mothers, and children.”
We try to remember this “new family of God” that we are a part of at Cherith Brook, in the “Shower House”, in our Thursday Community meals, in our life together. When we come together to share a meal, there are no divisions among us. We are no longer strangers. We are family; brothers and sisters in Christ. This is what the “Shower House” has become: a place of family. Our brothers and sisters from the streets remind us of this, that when we do the will of God together, we become family.
As I have lived at Cherith Brook for more than two years now, I am beginning to know the people here as family, not just figuratively, but literally. People that come to Cherith Brook often ask if Nick and I are brothers, and I am becoming more and more confused about how to answer that question. I’m sure that part of the reason is that we look alike, but I hope that it might also be because we live together like brothers along with the rest of our family here. Paul uses the language of “adoption” into the family of God and in 2 Corinthians he says that we become a new creation. Rodney Clapp says, “Conversion creates a new person, even a new world. It involves nothing short of re-socialization. The biological family, though not at all despised or useless, is no longer the primary source of identity, support and growth.”
Now don’t get me wrong, I love my biological family. But I am coming to the realization that I must do as Jesus said and leave my family to follow Jesus so that I may love them more fully as brothers and sisters in the “new family of God”. Jesus said, “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.” (Matthew 10:37) If we love our families, we must leave them for our adoption into the family of God. May we always be asking ourselves, “Who are our mother and our brothers and sisters?” Our family is all around us, anyone who does the will of God. And if you forget, my brother Gary will remind you, “We are not friends, we are family!”