His mother and brothers now arrived and, standing outside, sent in a message asking for him. A crowd was sitting round him at the time the message was passed to him, ‘Your mother and brothers and sisters are outside asking for you.’ He replied, ‘Who are my mother and my brothers?’ And looking round at those sitting in a circle about him, he said, ‘Here are my mother and my brothers. Anyone who does the will of God, that person is my brother and sister and mother.’ 

Mark 3:32 – 25 

Families are interesting, aren’t they? They have stories, secrets, special names, strange uncles and aunts, the black sheep, the warriors, the victims, the successful, the damned, the alcoholics, the criminals, the brilliant, the battlers, the artist, the elite sportsmen and women, the weird and wonderful. They all exist in my family. 

Telling your family story is a revelation. We share it with a few selected individuals at various times in our lives, it develops an intimacy when these stories are shared, and the telling speaks volumes about who we are. We tell how our fears grew, how much we are and were loved. And it goes both ways. Your family, more often than not, knows your story. 

For some, their family’s story is a burden they can no longer bear. They break the bond that has been crafted for generations because of any number of difficulties, from being misunderstood to being a victim to familial violence or sexual assault, from constant criticism to overwhelming pressure to achieve or comply. 

Jesus’ family also have their expectations of him. When he returned home with his disciples there were so many people that his family couldn’t even get a meal to him. They thought Jesus was ‘out of his mind’ and were resolved to take control of the situation. They thought that they knew his story. But they had seriously underestimated him. It is whoever does the will of God who is family. I cannot imagine that this is a put down, but it is a clarification, an assurance that real family will not try to contain you or control you, but that all who listen to and respond to the will of God will enable you to be truly free. Jesus doesn’t deny his family, he invites each of us to be part of it. 

For many in our society, the nuclear family exists alone in a huge community, with little or no contact with grandparents, aunts, and uncles, let alone great uncles and aunts and second cousins. We appear to have trouble being families with almost 50 percent of marriages ending in separation and divorce involving children. Consequently, we need to ensure that our family stories are not being extinguished nor losing their power. We need not be overly and overtly concerned Nazarenes, but certainly we should maintain connections and interest. And if there are unbearable truths that must be faced, don’t walk away. Take action.  


Mr Peter Douglas 

Director of Faith and Mission