When the 2010 Fall TV season was announced, there was a new series advertised to be aired on ABC beginning September 28 and running through April 5th featuring a 1960’s typical American family: father and mother and two children – a son and a daughter, whose plane crashes in the Amazon. There they encounter one science-fiction episode after another that changes them into: “No Ordinary Family.”
The series never made into a second season even though a fan club of viewers is still circulating petitions,
but they can’t get enough signatures to bring it back.
Nor can we bring back that show’s image of a family: a set of parents with two children, one of each gender.
Today families are being defined in a different way, not by generation and gender but by relationships; which is really a return to a way the earliest Christians saw themselves to be “No Ordinary Family.”
Family defined as a relationship spelled out in a somewhat complex combination of words in the First Letter of John: Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, (and therefore, God’s children)
who in the straight-forward Gospel words of Jesus, hear: 'This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.’
“As I have loved you” – A relationship of love coming from God through Christ that defines “family” not by generation and gender, but by being connected to God with a love made visible in Christ.
The story is told of an Irish priest who, on a walking tour of a rural parish, sees an old peasant kneeling by the side of the road, praying. Impressed, the priest says to the man, "You must be very close to God." The peasant looks up from his prayers, thinks a moment, smiles and says, "Yes, he's very fond of me." What's So Amazing about Grace?, Phillip Yancy, P.69)
God’s “fondness” that has us hearing Jesus say, You did not choose me but I chose you. A relationship of love coming from God-in-Christ, Who, from the beginning of creation, has longed to have all humans be God’s children, who, being chosen by God, are “No Ordinary Family.”
“Wonder Years” was another TV series that aired 22 years before the premiere of “No Ordinary Family” and went on for six seasons of 115 episodes. A pastor who watched as a child, reminisces about the scene of choosing a basketball team in Phys Ed class.
Brian Stoffregen recalls the teacher choosing two to pick the rest of their teams, leaving the poor players till last – “which did little to help their self-esteem.” The show’s main character, Kevin, complains to the teacher who makes him one of the captains.
Kevin’s friends, one of the worst players, looks at him in anticipation; will Kevin choose him early in the round, or be like all the other captains?
Kevin picks him and feels good about his choice; so, he picks another friend who isn’t a good player. Soon he hears, “Pick some good players. We want to win the game.” But Kevin keeps picking the losers. It makes him feel good and they feel good about being picked. Of course, as players they are losers, but they didn’t play for the top score, they played for the fun of knowing they have been chosen to play together. (Quoted from www.textweek.com for May 10, 2015, Brian Stoffregen, Faith Lutheran Church, 1000 D St., Marysville, CA 95901.)
The pastor, Brian Stoffregen, asks, “Who did Jesus choose?” The answer, “Crude , foul-mouthed, impatient, hot-headed fishermen; a tax collector known to be a swindler, a fanatical revolutionary.” As someone has said, “God elects the rejects.” (IBID.)
And that’s hope us as we hear Jesus say, You did not choose me but I chose you. and insert our name in the place of the word “you.” Do it now, and then say, “No Ordinary Family!” who then listen to Jesus finishing the sentence: And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name….in “his name” Whose name is LOVE,
God’s love coming through Christ, to us, to bear the fruits of that love that make us “No Ordinary Family!”
The “love-fruit” of listening, knowing that is why we have one mouth and two ears…to listen, as Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote: “Just as love for God begins with listening to His Word, so the beginning of love for (brothers and sisters in Christ) is listening to them.” (Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together, p. 97.)
A person who experienced a personally devastating tragedy was visited by one church member after another;
each came with flowers or a devotional booklet, or food. Another church member who finally pushed herself to go, came with a confession; she’d hesitated to visit because she didn’t know what to say.
The person’s response was, “Please sit down and hold my hand. I just want to feel the silence of love expressed in your being with me.” The love-fruit of listening practiced by Christians who are “No Ordinary Family!”
And the “love fruit” of other-centered love replacing self-centered love, discovered by a woman who had attended a church for 20 years, and finally brought herself to joining the Alcoholic Anonymous group that met in the building. It was then that she said, “This is what I have been seeking; the other-centered love of people who have dared to step out of an ego-centered life and love me with their caring, and their hard words when I need to hear them.” (Adapted from Melissa Bane Sevier, Contemplative Viewfinder, Pastor of First Presbyterian Church, Aurora, Indiana)
The love-fruit of Christ’s love for us, give to others by Christians who are “No Ordinary Family!”
Some are saying that the “family” is changing from being defined by generation and gender to the relationship of love, from God, through Christ, to us to share with one another as God’s children who are “No Ordinary Family.”
Where is this family found? The answer echoes down to us through today’s Scripture heard on this Sunday in the ongoing season of Easter, sub-titled as “Festival of the Christian Home” and Mother’s Day.”
The artist, Margret Hofheinz-Doring, traces this family tree back through time in her work called “Endless Road,”
that pulls our eyes into a background that stretches beyond the horizon, back to the first humans chosen by God to be the beginning of “No Ordinary Family.”
Later the artist’s work was captioned with the words: "There aren’t any ordinary people in the world; everyone is
extraordinary because everyone has been created by God, and is someone to reverence." (Servant of God, Catherine Doherty, 20th century, from wordofgodeveryday.com)
Family, defined not as generation and gender, but a relationship of love coming from God through Christ to us to one another, the family tree which when traced back has us saying with the Irish peasant, “God is very fond of me.” and when looking up say, “And of everyone else, chosen by God to be God’s children; ‘No Ordinary Family!’”
Then, on this Festival of the Christian Home and Mother’s Day add, “That’s how we define family!” AMEN.