Ninth Sunday After Pentecost, Year A

Genesis 45:1-15 and Psalm 133
Romans 11:1-2a, 29-32
Matthew 15: (10-20), 21-28

We all have many different genres of relationships in our lives. We have friends, co-workers, neighbors, acquaintances, faith community members, and we have an important and slightly mysterious one we call Family.

We (Laura and Matt) have just spent the last week with two different sets of Family. We both had the opportunity to spend time with Family we are related to by blood and also Family we are related to by marriage. As far as we know, they were all great visits with our extended Family.

But the term Family doesn’t have a universal meaning and definition of relationship, does it? Some of us have Family that we don’t like. Some of us have Family we never see. Some of us have Family we love and appreciate and maybe even live with. Some of us will do anything in the world for our Family…and some of us will not.

Some of us think of our Church Family. Some of us have a work Family. Some of us have neighbors that are more important to us than our blood Family.

The word and idea of Family can mean a lot of things and can generate a wide variety of responses within each of us.

This week we see some different examples of what Family means to different folks and how Family plays out in different lives.

The first story is one of the most beautiful stories of forgiveness found anywhere. The short version is that Joseph reveals to his Family that he is alive and a big deal in Egypt and that he loves them and is going to take care of them even though they tried to kill him and sold him in to slavery. Wow. Family ran deep and important for Joseph.

The Psalmist is praising blood relations, and after the whirlwind tour of various family relationships in Genesis this summer, it is understandable that the Psalmist would observe the benefits of peace among kin!

In Paul’s letter to the followers of Jesus in Rome, while struggling with some bigger questions of obedience, is also wrestling with the question of who is in and who is out of God’s Family. He certainly continued to claim his Israelite heritage and Family connection, and he is telling others outside of the Israelite Family that there is a place for them at the table too.

There are a couple of different things happening in the passage from Matthew this week, but they are generally connected. First, the second part. We see a Cannanite (non-Jewish) woman come to Jesus to ask him to heal her daughter. Jesus shoos her away because she is not a Jew, and she comes back asks that maybe everyone might deserve his healing and love.

Jesus was drawing his circle of Family very specifically, and this woman gently invites him to re-think who got included in his Family.

Now this reflects back to the first portion of the selection from Matthew. Jesus has just offered a teaching that takes a swipe at some of the traditional dietary laws—“It is not what goes in to the mouth that matters, but what comes out of it”. In that teaching itself, he is breaking down some of the traditional lines folks were drawing. And after that teaching, a woman who may have been listening to him asks him to really apply what he had been talking about more broadly.

Sometimes it is dangerous for us to think about who we might have responsibility to as a part of our family. Sometimes we might find ourselves being called to include someone in our Family we have not before. Sometimes we might find ourselves being called to leave a Family table we always thought we were a part of.


Open our eyes

And our minds

And our hearts to see

The Family

In our midst

And beyond our current vision

So that we may


Those you would have us



© matt & laura norvell 2011 www.settingourstones.org we want to share this with you and hope you'll share with the world; we simply ask that you let people know where you found these words. May Grace & Peace be with you.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

What a great idea! I, too, have wrestled with this skill for years..