Posted by: Renee | July 30, 2012

We Are A Family

sermon by Justin White on Sunday, July 29, 2012  

** I had every intent on preaching a sermon on “Uriah, the Faithful One.” But my trajectory changed after the events of the past week. Between the Chic Fil A arguments that have taken over my timeline on facebook and twitter, and after the African American Couple who were blocked from getting married at Crystal Springs Baptist Church, I decided to go with, “We Are A Family.”  ** 

Second Samuel 11:1-27

 1 In the spring, at the time when kings go off to war, David sent Joab out with the king’s men and the whole Israelite army. They destroyed the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. But David remained in Jerusalem. 2 One evening David got up from his bed and walked around on the roof of the palace. From the roof he saw a woman bathing. The woman was very beautiful, 3 and David sent someone to find out about her. The man said, “Isn’t this Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite?” 4 Then David sent messengers to get her. She came to him, and he slept with her. (She had purified herself from her uncleanness.) Then [a]she went back home. 5 The woman conceived and sent word to David, saying, “I am pregnant.” 6 So David sent this word to Joab: “Send me Uriah the Hittite.” And Joab sent him to David. 7 When Uriah came to him, David asked him how Joab was, how the soldiers were and how the war was going. 8 Then David said to Uriah, “Go down to your house and wash your feet.” So Uriah left the palace, and a gift from the king was sent after him. 9 But Uriah slept at the entrance to the palace with all his master’s servants and did not go down to his house. 10 When David was told, “Uriah did not go home,” he asked him, “Haven’t you just come from a distance? Why didn’t you go home?” 11 Uriah said to David, “The ark and Israel and Judah are staying in tents, and my master Joab and my lord’s men are camped in the open fields. How could I go to my house to eat and drink and lie with my wife? As surely as you live, I will not do such a thing!” 12 Then David said to him, “Stay here one more day, and tomorrow I will send you back.” So Uriah remained in Jerusalem that day and the next. 13At David’s invitation, he ate and drank with him, and David made him drunk. But in the evening Uriah went out to sleep on his mat among his master’s servants; he did not go home. 14 In the morning David wrote a letter to Joab and sent it with Uriah. 15In it he wrote, “Put Uriah in the front line where the fighting is fiercest. Then withdraw from him so he will be struck down and die.” 16 So while Joab had the city under siege, he put Uriah at a place where he knew the strongest defenders were. 17 When the men of the city came out and fought against Joab, some of the men in David’s army fell; moreover, Uriah the Hittite died. 18 Joab sent David a full account of the battle. 19 He instructed the messenger: “When you have finished giving the king this account of the battle, 20 the king’s anger may flare up, and he may ask you, ‘Why did you get so close to the city to fight? Didn’t you know they would shoot arrows from the wall? 21 Who killed Abimelech son of Jerub-Besheth [b] ? Didn’t a woman throw an upper millstone on him from the wall, so that he died in Thebez? Why did you get so close to the wall?’ If he asks you this, then say to him, ‘Also, your servant Uriah the Hittite is dead.’ ” 22 The messenger set out, and when he arrived he told David everything Joab had sent him to say. 23 The messenger said to David, “The men overpowered us and came out against us in the open, but we drove them back to the entrance to the city gate. 24 Then the archers shot arrows at your servants from the wall, and some of the king’s men died. Moreover, your servant Uriah the Hittite is dead.” 25 David told the messenger, “Say this to Joab: ‘Don’t let this upset you; the sword devours one as well as another. Press the attack against the city and destroy it.’ Say this to encourage Joab.” 26 When Uriah’s wife heard that her husband was dead, she mourned for him. 27 After the time of mourning was over, David had her brought to his house, and she became his wife and bore him a son. But the thing David had done displeased the LORD.

In our Old Testament lesson today, we see a King who had all the power and privilege in the world. He had his wives, he had his children, he had an army, he seemingly had it all, and then one day he noticed her, Bathsheba. He had to have her, so he seduced her, had her husband Uriah killed. It is a story of abuse, deception, and murder.

The King got his way, gained a new wife, and took over Uriah’s household. Bathsheba bore him a son and they lived happily ever after! Okay, so they don’t live happily ever after at all. It was one big mess. It was a mess that displeased God, because David had used his power and his privilege to take advantage of Bathsheba and to have her husband killed. It was a decision that would haunt the rest of his and his family’s life. There would be scandals. His sons would commit horrible crimes against women, David would be disgraced. Yet, Christ would be born out of this mess.  

 What does this sobering account of a family have to do with us here at Wells, and in Jackson?

This story of King David is like the many stories that we hear these days. There are many people in power who take advantage of their power, in negative ways, and exploit the innocent, commit sexual assault, rape, infidelity, and many other horrific acts. But to think that this guy, who was supposedly a man after God’s own heart could do this? King David: he was the High King of Israel. He was God’s anointed one that was called to lead. Supposedly, he was a man after God’s own heart. His family would go on to rule Israel, and his son, Solomon, would be known as one of the wisest kings of Israel. I do not want to affirm David’s proclivity to seduce women, or to kill people to have what he wanted. Yet, in all this tragedy, it points to the fact that families are complicated and that Christ can come in a redeem the most horrific of events.

Family is not always pretty. There is no such thing as perfect family or a simple family. However, that does not mean that God cannot work in the imperfect family through the power of God’s own son, Jesus Christ. For you see, King David’s family wasn’t perfect. David committed crimes against Bathsheba, had Uriah killed and then brought her into his house where he already had many wives. Yet, Jesus Christ came out of David’s line. When you look at the genealogy of Jesus, you notice that Jesus’ lineage includes Solomon, one of the sons of David and Bathsheba. God took this situation, where many of the 10 commandments were broken, and used it in bringing Jesus Christ into this world. God took this Ancient Soap Opera and brought about the Prince of Peace, the Everlasting one, The Redeeming one! God used darkness, and brought out everlasting light.

 So what does the perfect family look like? Well, I’m not sure if we will ever know, but I know that at Wells Church, I have gotten a glimpse of a beautiful family. This family is all of us. Is it perfect? NO! Is it always easy? NO! Is it always fun? Well, most the time it is, but sometimes it is not! But because we are all here, living in community, serving Christ by serving each other, and serving the world, Wells has birthed a family. We have birthed things like the food pantry, WellsFest, just to name a few.  We worship together. We often eat together. We sing together. We pray together. We cry together. We celebrate each other, even in the midst of our deep brokenness. This family is a true family and I would argue that the bonds that are formed in the midst of serving Christ and worshipping in this community could sometimes be stronger than the bonds that we have with our own families. There are those who have no “blood” family at all, and there are those who do not have healthy families. There are those that do have a family, but they do not see their family as their own. That is why I say that family is so much more than blood.

In Mark, Jesus is talking with the disciples when his mother and siblings come to him. Someone in the crowd tells Jesus that his mother, brothers, and sisters are outside and they are looking for him. Jesus responds, “Who are my brothers and sisters and mother?” As he looked at the crowd of disciples around him, those whom served with him, sojourned with him, healed with him, loved with him, he said, “Here are my brothers and sisters and my mother. Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.” The more and more I work in this church, and serve with many of you, I realize that family is more than dna. Family is those persons who love each other and serve the world in love.

 Personally, there are many people in my life who I consider to be family. They come from all phases of my life and very few of them are related to me. As an only child, I do not have any siblings who are related to me by blood. But yet, I do have siblings in my life that my parents took in when they were having difficulties in their own blood families, and the bonds I have with them, are deep, strong, and authentic. Again, with all of us, it is not always easy, and to many people, it is just plain confusing.

Family can be messy and family can often times be just plain confusing. Just look at the story of David and Bathsheba. David’s family was insane!

Slam by Nick Hornby, is a modern day novel where there is a picture of a family that is, well, it is strange to say the least. You see, this family is one where a son gets his girlfriend pregnant and then he finds out that his mom is pregnant as well. Sam is the son, and he and his girlfriend have a baby named Roof. Roof is born one month before Sam’s mom has her daughter. When Sam’s mom gives birth to her daughter, Sam and his son, Roof, go to the hospital to see his mom. Mark, the mom’s boyfriend is also there. Picture the hospital scene as I read Sam’s narration,

 “Mum’s baby Emily was born in the same hospital as Roof, but in the room next door. Mark was there, of course, and I took Roof in on the bus a couple of hours later. ‘Here’s grandma,’ I said when we went in. ‘And here’s your auntie.’ Mum was used to being Grandma by then, but not so many people get called Grandma while they are nursing a baby. And not many people get called Auntie when they’re two hours old. ‘Bloody,’ said Mark. ‘What a mess.’ He was laughing, but Mum wasn’t having it.’ ‘Why is it a mess?’ she said. ‘She’s been alive for five minutes, and she’s got a nephew who’s older than her, and two half brothers with different mothers, and a mum who’s a grandmother, and God knows what else.’ ‘What else?’ asks mum. ‘Well. Nothing else.’ Says Mark, ‘But that is a lot.’ ‘It’s just a family, isn’t it?’ asks mum. ‘A family where everyone’s the wrong age,’ replies Mark. “Oh don’t be so stuffy. There is no such thing as a right age’.”

I think Sam’s mom is onto something. There is no such thing as a right age, but I would also say there is no such thing as a right family. We see that this family is quite abnormal when compared to what we think of as normal family. All the children were born out of wedlock, one set of parents was 17, the other set was much older, and so forth and so on; but the Mom knew that even though it was different, it was still beautiful. Authentic family in whatever form that comes in, albeit different, is beautiful. Families that bring LOVE to the center of their lives are beautiful.

As persons who are seeking to live lives like Christ, we need to remember that we are all brothers and sisters because of our common humanity as children of the Creator. God created us all, and God calls us all God’s own beloved children. For all of us, family looks different. Some of us come from the so called traditional family with two parents and siblings. Some of us come from a family where our parents are no longer together. Some of us are only children. Some of us have lost our moms, our dads, or both. Some of us are married to the loves of our lives, and some of us are not. Some of us want to marry the loves of our lives, yet the laws of the land tell us we can’t. Some of us come from families that society looks at and says, “you are different, you are not good.” Family looks different for all of us, and yet, in this place, in our humanity, we still are one family, who are joined together by the bond of Jesus Christ, and that goes for all of us! Not just for those of us who are in here, but for those in our lives we scorn.

We are family with those in our lives we cast out. Those in our lives we try to push to the “other side.” Those in our lives whom we label as “outsider” because, well, they can never be a true “Christian” because of the way they live their life. We are family with those who have different shades of skin than us. Those who are richer than us. Those who are poorer than us. Those who are bigger than us. Those who are smaller than us. Those who are smarter than us. Those who don’t walk like us. Those who don’t talk like us. Those who don’t worship like us. Those who don’t live like us. Those who don’t love like us. Those who don’t have the same sexuality as us. Those who don’t agree with us. Those who don’t eat chic fil a, and even those who do. Those who don’t even love us.

All of these persons are our brothers and sisters in our common humanity, and we cannot be the judges of whether they are in the family or out of the family. All we can do is love them, and include them into our family, so they become part of us, and us part of them. It is the beauty of family, it is the beautiful mess of family. Because, let’s be honest, if Jesus can be born out of a line that includes murder, adultery, prostitution, and other messes, then Jesus can come into our own families and recreate and redeem them. We just have to allow the love of Jesus Christ to come in and transform us, and our families. The way we are able to do that is by becoming families that offer hospitality to the outsider. We have to become families that are open to serving the world. We also have to remember that family does not always manifest itself in likely ways. We have to be willing to change, and let the Spirit guide us. Family is so much more than we can understand. The bonds that hold us together as brothers and sisters of God are so much more than we can understand. But that is part of the overwhelming beauty that is family.

Jesus Christ, the man who was killed because he loved all, and considered all persons a part of his family, came out of David’s line. Christ came out of Bathsheba’s line. Christ came into this world to recreate us, redeem us, and make all things new. Christ’s love is available to those who use their power to take advantage of people. Christ’s love is available to those who argue over chicken. Christ’s love is available to those churches who won’t allow marriages of those they see as “the other.”

Christ’s love is available to us all.

Christ’s love can be an ever present reality, we just need to ask for eyes to see Christ, hearts to feel Christ, and we need to seek out Christ’s love in our own families, because, Christ is there. So remember, we are all one big family! We may not understand it, we may not want to be part of it, but we are all one family because we are all children of God, the Creator. Amen. 


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