Daily Lectionary Readings for Year B
The Gospel from our readings this morning could cause us to raise our eyebrows. Someone says to Jesus, "Your mother and brothers are here!" Jesus replies, "Who are my mother and brothers?" And, pointing at his disciples, Jesus says, "Here are my mother and my brothers." Yikes. I wish the Gospel writer would have continued with what Mary did next. But, perhaps this is not so much of an insult to Jesus' birth family as it is a recognition that shared faith makes us family.
We often feel that at Wesley Park. I have noticed that some abbreviate the church not as WPUMC but as WPF. Wesley Park Family. When you go through life together, it makes you closer. Births and struggles, illnesses and celebrations, all make us feel like kin, even if we didn't grow up in the same house. One of the many unique parts of being a member of a church is when we allow others to know us. When we trust each other to be vulnerable because we share the love of Christ, we are no longer anonymous strangers. We are sisters and brothers.
Some of you have been sharing your experiences with Dolores Sanford. Ron and Dolores came to Wesley Park and shared their light and faith. You walked by their side throughout Ron's cancer, and were there for Dolores when Ron died last December. You have called, and received calls from Dolores throughout this year, even when she wasn't feeling very well. You were her family, her brothers and sisters. She was your sister in Christ. When Dolores died on Christmas morning, we shared that kind of grief of a community of faith rejoicing in the home-going of a follower of Christ, and grieving the loss of a sister and a friend.
I am glad that Jesus had friends who were like family. He knew what we know, that love is a powerful force that cannot be restricted by birthplace or blood. We are one family in Christ.
I will attach the obituary for Dolores's funeral. But, let me make a few comments. All that I have just said about friendship, family, and faith make the love at the time of death so powerful. If these were normal circumstances, I would strongly encourage you to come to the funeral to share, grieve, and rejoice together. For some of us, it feels like the best way we can honor the one who has died. But these are not normal circumstances. The funeral will be at Dolores's son-in-law's church, which is large with a capacity of over 500 but with a restricted number of 100 people allowed to gather. Pews are roped off. Social distancing is required. Masks are mandatory. With the virus in the air and spreading even faster, please know you do not need to attend the funeral to honor Dolores. When the vaccine has been distributed and it is safe for us to gather together again, we will have a memorial service at the church. We will have a time for us to give God thanks for Jackie Price, Earl Morrow, Dolores, and others. We will give God thanks for our sisters and our brothers. For now, I would encourage you to be as safe as you can be. Prayers of thanksgiving from wherever you are would be a great gift and recognition of the special place Dolores has in your heart.
WPF, do all you can in these days to call one another and stay connected. Trust that you are loved. Share your life. Share your hurts and your hopes. Give God thanks and praise for being welcomed and loved into this family of faith.