3rd Sunday After Pentecost, June 10, 2018

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

It started with Rent-A-Wife, a small company in California, created by Karen Donovan. The purpose was to help clients decorate their homes, balance their checkbooks, run errands, etc.

Donovan, who launched her business through a small ad in a local paper, is already thinking big after four months of operation. She wants to hire her father to initiate Rent-A-Husband, and her two teens to start Rent-A-Family. “We can do what any family does.” She joked. “We can come over, eat all of the food, turn on all the lights, put handprints on the walls, take showers and leave towels all over the floor. When clients are finished with Rent-A-Family, they’ll need to call Rent-A-Wife.”  – Campus Life, Oct. 1980

Families. Can’t live with them, can live without them.

In our gospel lesson for this morning, Jesus is out and about in his hometown, followed by a crowd. His family is trying to restrain him, because the people are saying, “He’s out of his mind.”

The scribes say that he is possessed by the devil. So, Jesus speaks to the people in parables, and then someone says to him, “Hey, your mother, brothers, and sisters are outside asking for you.” Then Jesus makes an astounding statement. He responds, “Who are my mother and brothers?” And looking at the people gathered, he says, “Here, are my mother and brothers and sisters. Whoever does the will of God is my brother, sister and mother.” “My family.”

Jesus is telling them that its not just blood relations who are family. Everyone who does God’s will, though, they are family and family is a community. “Family” is the place we all started at if we were lucky.

Think back on your own families, the good things, the quirks that there may have been, and even the bad things. This is what it is like for all of us. Not necessarily all the same, but we have all had our ups and downs with family.

I was fortunate to know both sets of my grandparents, but Martin only got to know his maternal grandparents. His paternal grandparents were both dead by the time he was born.

I was lucky enough to have three sets of grandparents, two by blood, and one by friendship. It took me a long time to figure out that even though we called one couple, “Grandma and Grandpa Healy,” that we were not at all related, but they had been close friends with my parents.

Families may be blood relatives, or not. They may be friends and neighbors, or even the folks that we work with, or play with.

Families are around us and give us moral support and sometimes even other kinds of support as well. Families are important, and the point Jesus is making here is that our families of origin are important, but our connection to one another as Christians, is important too. He opens up the definition of family to include not just blood relations, but to all who believe in him and do God’s will. They are family too. Our Christian family is important.

In Mark’s Gospel, Jesus preaches to the Jews and the Gentiles both, and the Good News about Jesus begins to spread all over. This doesn’t sit well with the Scribes and the Pharisees. They were the keepers of the religion, they were the ones that meted out punishment to those who committed even the smallest infraction of the Law, and they sought to keep their high jobs exclusive. They didn’t want Jesus muddying the waters with his proclamation of the kingdom of God, they didn’t want him giving hope to the poor and the oppressed, and they didn’t want him giving people hope of a new day, a new life.

Jesus is being counter-cultural. He is giving hope and he is setting up a new family, the family of believers in his name. The Christian family that gathers here to support one another, by what Martin Luther calls “The mutual conversation and consolation of the brothers and sisters.” This is the ability to walk alongside someone you know, to pray for them when they have a need, to celebrate with them in happy times, and to remind them when things have gone wrong that they are forgiven. That they are loved and forgiven. This is the part the church is to play for each one us and for the world as well. This is the role God has given us.

Shortly we will participate in the baptism of two sweet little souls, Brooks and Lucy. They come to us with their family and friends and they become today a part of the Christian community. We walk alongside them, we walk alongside their parents, Maggie and Eric, alongside their grandparents, Denny and Trudy, and alongside other family members as well.

We prayed for them when they were born, and we will continue to pray for them throughout their lives.

We pray for them because of our personal connection to them and their family, but we are, as Christian people, to pray for the rest of the world as well. As the family of God, gathered here, we are to pray and care for all of God’s creatures, in this world, especially his human creatures, regardless of their race, religion, or ethnic origin, orientation, or language, mental or physical ability, whether they are human, animal or plant.

We are to care for the youngest and the oldest because they are less able to care for themselves and there are times the young and the frail elderly need us to be their voice.

“Who are your brother, mother, and sisters?” Look around you here today, and then walk out into the world and look around you again. They are everywhere in every human being.

We ask God’s blessings today on Brooks, Lucy, and their parents.

May we be there for you whenever you need our support. And know that our Lord Jesus Christ is with you always. God bless us all.