The Holy Family Within Your Home

by Pastor Heath Howe, Family Ministries

In chapel every time we change to a new liturgical season we hear again the story of The Holy Family. You know the famous and familiar three: Mary, Joseph, and Baby Jesus. We do not wait untilChristmas to hear about them. We hear about them all year long so we can learn the deep meaning of their story all the more. Jerome Berryman, the creator of Godly Play, explains,

"The Holy Family is the matrix - the Latin word for womb - out of which new life comes. This story is the story of the re-creation of the universe. Christ's incarnation changes everything. Most especially, it changes the way we understand ourselves, each other, the Creator and the created world around us. The axis of life in the Christian tradition is birth-death-rebirth. The children begin to perceive this axis through the naming of the Holy Family, and through the careful, respectful moving of the figures. We do not talk about this meaning, but wait for the children themselves to discover it. We, like the Holy Family, are invited to be co-creators in the biological, psychological, social and spiritual spheres of life."

As we move into our Christian new year and make the journey of Advent to the holy city of Bethlehem, it is fitting for us to enter into the womb of the Holy Family, the place, the matrix where it all began. After all, their story is our story. Some of us in this congregation have felt much like Mary, heavy, nervous, excited and peaceful all at once about the love of God that has been growing in us and is ready to break forth. Others of us have felt much like Joseph, curious, protective, honored to be a part of God's new plan for life. Still others have felt like the Baby himself, waiting in the dark, yet safe and held in the waters of life and ready to enter into the new phase of reality when it is time. Finally, others of us hear the story of The Holy Family and simply know deep within our hearts and minds that this story holds a power and meaning that lives well beyond the years of happening and that jumps off the pages that contain it. It is a story that calls us by name and leads us home.

This is also a story that moves us out beyond ourselves. As we ponder this story for the next four weeks of Advent, let us not forget that just as The Holy Family was with one another in love, so their journey outward from Nazareth to Bethlehem resulted in the transformation of all and the bringing about of God's kingdom. What is true for them is true for us as well. We must take this story, our holy story, out into the world. We do this in the same way Mary did, by saying "yes" to bearing love. We do it in the way of Joseph, by saying "yes" to protecting love. We do it the way the Baby did, by simply being love in the world. The practical ways each of us puts flesh and bone on this work of transformation will differ. For some it may mean saying "no" to lying and dishonesty at work. For others it may mean saying "yes" to choices that ease anxiety and stress at home. For still others it may simply mean trusting that prayers are answered and that God is faithful. For all of us it means looking for love in all parts of our lives and traveling toward it.

I invite you, therefore, this Advent, to a holy walk, a holy journey, to a holy place, and, as you travel along, to look for love. When you see it, receive it. When you have it, share it. Keep moving. Keeping sharing. Keep watching. The Holy Family does not remain at home. Joseph and Mary make the journey to Bethlehem where the Baby is born - and so must we. For it is in Bethlehem that life begins, a life that changes all of life forever.

For Advent daily devotionals, family activities, and more please consider the following sites:
http://www.vibrantfaithathome.org/; www.ssje.org; www.cac.org