What Is A Family?

by Robert Brow (www.brow.on.ca) Aurora, Ontario June 2008

  A nuclear family is formed as "a man leaves his father and his mother
 and clings to his wife, and they become one flesh" (Genesis 2:24). A
 family can then grow by adoption or procreation. The children of a
 family are those who have a right to eat at the family table. Others
 need an invitation to a meal. But once people of any age have a right
 to eat regularly at a family table, we know they are family.
 Children remain part of the household till they in turn leave to form
 new families. But in a wider sense people living in different
 households can still view themselves as family. We speak of a closely
 knit family when people living in different households still eat
 together on a regular basis. But those who never eat together are
 inevitably distanced from an extended family.
 At the Last Supper Jesus told his apostles to keep eating together
 (bread and wine was the diet of a simple household). This was designed
 to nurture the Christian family. We are not just citizens of the
 Kingdom but "members of the household of God" (Ephesians 2:19).
 Till recently the communion service was unfortunately used to mark off
 those who belonged to a particular denomination. Others were not
 welcome. A major change took place in Anglican (Episcopal)
 congregations when we welcomed those of any denominational label to
 share in our communion services. We have also seen that children have
 a right from their earliest days to be at the family table. And this
 openness to all the family of God is now becoming common in other
 The sense of being part of the world-wide family of God is valued by
 millions of new Christians in many countries. It is sad that at the
 same time membership in this family is being forgotten in many parts
 of the west. Jesus pictured the sad state of the prodigal son when he
 went away from the family table. But that was not the end of the
 story. Jesus also pictured the father's rejoicing when the lost son
 came back. Our churches will be revitalized when we can again make the
 Christian family the heart of our faith and practice.
 Robert Brow
 e-mail : browr@brow.on.ca
 web site : www.brow.on.ca

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