Something very unique in human history happened part-way through the twentieth century and it has had a devastating impact on local churches all around the world! The concept of ‘family’ went nuclear. A ‘nuclear’ family (dad, mum, and the kids, living in a house with a white picket fence) somehow became regarded as the family. What made this concept of the family so out-of-step with how nearly all cultures for time-immemorial have viewed what a ‘family’ was, is that this twentieth-century Western concept of family completely dismissed the role that grand-parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and even great-grandparents have played in the understanding of family.
In the Devon Franklin movie, “Breakthrough”, Joyce Smith never doubts that her drowned son would not only come back to life, but—and despite what the doctors all told her—would be completely healed from the brain and lung damage caused by the drowning. It might be easy to assume that it was ‘her faith’ that made her son whole again. I can understand how some might see that. But in the movie itself, which is based on a true story, we see a tender moment where Brian (Joyce’s husband) challenges her hyper-faith notion that she was solely responsible for saving the life of her son. But, it would also be too easy to dismiss the vital role that faith played in this amazing story.
Our theme for this year is Welcome home and there’s good reason for it. I pray regularly that God will bring into our church the hurting, the lost, the lonely, and the broken. Of all the things that these people will need it is most especially: love, care, support, understanding, acceptance, friendship, and rules. These are the things that a good home provides and they are also what our church can deliver. But it will mean that we will have to be very clear about the rules for achieving this because hurting, lost, lonely, and broken people are all too often hardened, bitter, self-pitying, and very negative people.
WHOSOEVER MAY COME
And the master said to the servant, ‘Go out to the highways and hedges and compel people to come in, that my house may be filled.’
Many people think that a church is a building. We don’t. Church is a family. Our building is where our church meets – it’s our dining room where our dining table is set each Sunday with a banquet of plenty of food for everyone. And when we say ‘plenty of food’ we mean more than enough. And when we say ‘more than enough’ we mean enough for as many visitors as might turn up. It’s the kind of dining table where everyone is invited, everyone is welcome, everyone is noticed, and everyone belongs. This picture of church is beautifully illustrated by King David’s dining table and who he invited to it.
MEPHIBOSHETH MAY COME
When David became king of Israel after the death of King Saul and his son, Jonathan, he wanted to honour his friendship with his late friend Jonathan. He enquired whether any of Jonathan’s family had survived.
¶ Jonathan, the son of Saul, had a son who was crippled in his feet. He was five years old when the news about Saul and Jonathan came from Jezreel, and his nurse took him up and fled, and as she fled in her haste, he fell and became lame. And his name was Mephibosheth.
Second Samuel 4:4
Mephibosheth was a paraplegic. But he was given a place at the King’s table.