Posted by: Titus Presler | December 17, 2011

Family Mission: Meditation for Advent III Saturday

The closer we get to Christmas the more we think about family.  Christmas highlights family in the saga of Mary and Joseph, the birth of their first child, and the later stories about the three of them.  In old Cairo today one can go down into the Crypt of the Holy Family and see, as a yellow sign on the street announces, “where the Holy Family lived for some time.”

Mirroring the story’s family dimension, our own families are gathering for the festival: the familes that created and formed us, the families we have created and formed.  Family forms the baseline of our spirituality.  Our background growing up shapes decisions we make about churches, whether we continue in the same vein or choose a different direction.  More deeply, our families of origin affect our images of God, our confidence in God’s love for us, our style of connecting with others in community.

In the families we form with spouses, partners and children we take on the responsibility of formation, and we experience others being shaped by who we are, what we believe, and how we live our faith.  As with the formation we received, we see responses of acceptance, resistance and a lot in between.

The logo of Episcopal Migration Ministries is a simple and elegant depiction of Mary and Jesus on a donkey, with Joseph guiding the way forward.  The flight into Egypt relates directly to EMM’s mission with refugees, immigrants and asylum seekers.  The logo’s intentionality suggests also that the Holy Family was fleeing not only for their lives but to carry out a mission that God entrusted to them.

We tend to think of God’s mission as something beyond the family.  On the model of the Holy Family, we might think of our own family having a mission.  God has brought this very particular group of people together: yes, for companionship, intimacy, joy and celebration, and perhaps also to affect the world in a way that only this family can.

Families can signify God’s mission in particular ways.  I think of many couples who share a commitment that changes their piece of the world.  I think of a refugee organization where the father’s involvement became the son’s vocation.  I think of a parish collector whose mother likewise tracked pledges when she was growing up.  I think of missionaries whose presence as parents with children has meant much in other parts of the world.

Rejoice in family in these days.  And consider the mission your family may have.


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