Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Home-coming

I have always been quite taken at the idea of a Heavenly Father. Perhaps overly taken by that idea, in that it defines God in specific attributes that are taken from my personal understanding of fatherhood and parenting that is reliant on a culture that is my own and experiences that are specific, rather than universal.

All that said, however, I am still inspired by the language that Christ uses in addressing God, that of Father. If Christ is to mediate for us with God, then his choosing to address God as Father, not only of Himself but of myself as well, speaks of a relationship of parental nurturing as a prime responsibility of the Creator of the Universe.

Like Schumacher said in a previous post, Christians are home-comers, and he views the Christian as the prodigal son, again with the familial language to describe our situation in relationship to divinity. We are attempting to come home to God, home to recognize that the lowliest position in the Lord's house is better than any position in the world.

What does this say about our relationship to each other? If God is the Father of all of us, then we are all spiritually brothers and sisters. I went home a few weeks ago. It was the first time all of us were together in several years. We spent months talking about what we were going to do when we get together, counting down the time until we all come together again. This is because I love my brothers and sisters. There are six of us all together, and now that we are all adults and past the period of asking impertinent questions of dates and stealing clothes/makeup/albums, we are an incredibly close knit group. If you wrong one of us, you will be facing all of us as we bring you to justice.

I remember a particular situation that demonstrates the love that we have for each other. My younger brother was playing Lord Capulet in his school's production of Romeo and Juliet. One of my best friends had died the night before in a car accident. As I went to see my brother perform in his play, I was overcome by grief. My friend and I had attended this same school, and as they performed in the open quad, memories of my lost friend assailed me. During intermission, I went backstage looking for my brother and couldn't find him. As one of the other actors went to go find him I went back out front of the stage. I looked up, with tears streaming down my face, and saw my brother running down the stairs from the balcony, his cape flowing out behind him, a look of utter concern on his face, as he came to me as quickly as he possibly could. He wanted to succor me in my hour of need, regardless of the play he was involved in.

With relationships like that, it is easy to see why the idea of belonging to a family is an appealing idea religiously. It also explains my commitment to justice for those who are spiritually my brothers and sisters. My calling as a believer in Christ is to treat all people as my brothers and sisters, not just those to whom I am genetically related. Believing in Christ is a call to care for all people on the earth as a sibling, to succor them in their hour of need.

How can we ask someone to be come part of a family of believers, or to trust in a Heavenly Father, when they are always treated like the red-headed stepchild of the family? Social justice is both a fruit of and a prerequisite to true belief.

3 comments:

Anastasia said...

Stories like this are almost bittersweet for me because I have no such experiences with my natal family. I've been playing around with a post about it. I used to just dismiss the idea of God as Father and the christian community as family because, well, I don't have either. I feel like I have no frame of reference. But there's still something beautiful about it.

I've been thinking that some things are so evil, so painful because they are almost right. Or they have the potential to be very holy, which is why when they go wrong they are so very wrong. A family that doesn't want us is maybe one of the most painful things we can experience, which is why a family that embraces us unconditionally is one of our core images of the divine.

Sarah said...

I remember coming home that day of the accident and seeing my very young child sitting on the arm of your chair using her comfy blanket to dry you cheeks saying over and over to you. "I dry your tears". You make so proud to call you sister. I love that you are willing to share your insights with us.

EmmaNadine said...

Anastasia,

I think you are right. The family is holy, which is why when it goes wrong it is so very very bad. And when it is right, it is as close to heaven on earth as you can get.

And Sarah, yes, I remember that, too. She was too little to really understand what was going on, but she just knew I was sad and wanted to help me feel better. It's no surprise she turned out so wonderfully.

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