In late October of 1991, a massive cold front passed over the east coast of the United States. It met a massive “extra-tropical low” that was off the Atlantic coast, then swept up the nearby remnants of Hurricane Grace to turn into a new Category 1 Hurricane.
This “Perfect Storm” had sustained winds of 61 mph with gusts of up to 72 mpg. Huge waves were formed with one reaching a meaured 100.7 feet high.
Today, at least four massive storms of tremendous social change have joined together to sweep across our society in the last 50-75 years.
• CONSUMERISM: While many amazing and wonderful inventions now crowd the shelves, underneath it all is an often-wasteful encouragement to buy more, to collect more, to have more. Instant gratification has replaced temperance. Consumer debt is at an all time high. Young families start out with massive debt. This burden of greed is not only financial but overwhelms our land fills, our homes and our families.
• COMPUTERS, SMART PHONES & THE INTERNET: The explosion of computers and computing power has changed industries, reworked lifestyles and insinuated themselves into our homes. Individual media devices drive people away from each other and into small screen virtual communities. Facebook & Texting friends get more time than family members. Dinnertime has added guests via smartphones. The Internet has changed everything we know about knowledge and the wisdom of our elders.
• THE SEXUAL REVOLUTION: We are living in a wildly sexualized society. Sex has become a commodity. “Recreational sex” and virtual sex are available and expected on demand. Everything around us equates love with sex. Hamburgers, cars and bath soap are sold because they are “sexy.” Our whole identity is shaped by an obsessive focus on our sexuality and our sexual identity.
• LIBERATION MOVEMENTS OF THE 20th CENTURY: Changes in Civil Rights, Women’s Liberation, Gay Rights, Human Rights have all challenged our understanding of who we are. National identity, ethnic identity and family identity have all been altered in the process. We are living in a time as formative and disorienting as the age of reason that overthrew the institutions of the Middle Ages and gave birth to the American Revolution 300 years ago.
Finally, in addition to these four storms, the recent GREAT RECESSION has swept over us, leaving us broken and changed. A great many lives have been effected as our economy has readjusted to all these trends. Jobs, houses and identities have been lost in the process. The stresses and strains on our families have been overwhelming.
Through all these storms, the family has been buffeted and broken, changed and challenged to find it’s way through. As the foundation of society, as it’s nurturing ground, it’s training field, it’s place of safety and love, the family has all too often left dysfunctional and broken.
In the midst of all this, the church, the body of Christ has tried to find it’s way as the “Family of God.” It’s held out a promise to be a rock, a place of renewal and new birth, a place of healing and wholeness in the storm.
In one sense, everyone and everything that is created is part of the family of God. We are all here at God’s choice and have life and breath because we believe that that’s what God wants us to have. We are all “God’s children” and look to God for hope.
But there is a closer, more powerful family that God calls us into. Paul writes in Galatians 3: 26-27
“for in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith. As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.” (emphasis added.)
This leads us to the familiar verse that declares:
28There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.
29And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to the promise.” (Gal. 3:28-29)
This means that God’s family is a family of spiritual choice, a personal and individual response to the great forgiving love of Jesus.
As such, we no longer live by the ways and demands of the world, buffeted by our feelings and our fears.
We are now living out a choice to be truly free of the limitations of this life and live in a family bound together by Love of God in the Holy Spirit.
We can be a family that not only meets all the struggles of the world, but actually overcomes them with an unconditional love that the world cannot offer.
The church, our church, is a counter-cultural force, transforming us, and the world around us into the family of God.
As you prepare for school, return from vacation, and settle into the routines of the Fall season, we invite you to consider what are the enduring strengths of the family.
Think about how living a life as a follower of Jesus makes all the difference in the world, in our communities and especially in our family.
Singles, married, divorced, families of all shapes and sizes, families from all backgrounds and neighborhoods are invited to join in and discover the deeper family that Christ offers.
August is our “Family” month. Be sure to be with us for any and all of our activities. Your family will be blessed by your participation.
What scripture has stayed with you this week?
What have others learned about Jesus Christ because of you?
How goes it with your soul?
Grace and Peace,
*Be sure to check out all the activities listed in our Newsletter and on our website: www.LancasterUnited.org that are especially designed to strengthen families in a difficult world.