Summer is quintessential family time. Time for family vacations. Time for family reunions. Time for family road trips. Time for family cookouts and picnics. You get the picture.
Depending on your family, this notion of family time might not be something you look forward to with much relish. With pandemic-driven remote school and remote work, you might have had all the family time you’d like, thank you very much, over the last 18 months.
And if you spend a few minutes Googling the phrase “family time” looking for images, as I just did, you run across all kinds of trite sayings. I didn’t pick one to illustrate this week’s topic. You’re welcome. But they do make some assumptions about what our relationships with family should be like. Such as:
- “Time spent with family is worth every second.”
- “My greatest pleasure is spending time with my family.”
- “Family time is sacred and should be respected and protected.”
- “Family is like music, some high notes, some low notes, but always a beautiful song.”
- “No amount of money or success can take the place of time spent with family.”
And so on and so on. We could wrestle with the underlying subtext behind sayings like these (and perhaps we will), but it’s also worth spending some time talking about the concept of family itself. In particular, what family means to us and what we mean when we talk about family.
Has your understanding of the meaning of family changed over time? I know that mine certainly has. So what does family mean to you these days, what’s changed in that, and why do you think your conception of family has changed over time?
Keeping the theology in Pub Theology, we do get an example of the sort of thing I’m getting at here in Mark’s Gospel (3:31-35). At this point in the story, as Mark tells it, Jesus has named his chosen 12 apostles, annoyed the religious authorities by having the nerve to heal someone on the sabbath, and generally carried on in such a way in Capernaum that his family has gotten word of it and decided it’s time for an intervention:
Then his mother and his brothers came; and standing outside, they sent to him and called him. A crowd was sitting around him; and they said to him, “Your mother and your brothers and sisters are outside, asking for you.” And he replied, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” And looking at those who sat around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.”
Apparently Joseph stayed behind to mind the carpentry shop. But clearly and more importantly, Jesus has expanded the definition of what he means by family. So this is what we’re going to talk about in our conversation this week. What do we mean by family, and how has our understanding of it in our lives changed over time?
Join us for the virtual discussion tomorrow evening, June 8, beginning at 7 pm. Click on the link below to be a part of the conversation.