This blog series, Family Ministry: Not Just for the Christian Right Anymore, explores how family-based faith formation ministry will help progressive Christian values take root first in homes and then throughout our communities and the world in order to spread justice and peace.
A middle class, white family crawls out of their beds in the pre-dawn hours. Kids and parents scurry past each other to the bathroom. Showers are taken. Teeth brushed. Work and school clothes chosen. The clinking of coffee cups and cereal bowls emanate from the kitchen as they sit down to share breakfast and prayer and scripture before their day begins.
That day they happen to read Matthew 15: 21-28, a passage in which a Canaanite woman demands a blessing and healing from Jesus. Parents had learned in a church Bible study that the Canaanite people were thought to be culturally inferior to Jews. Jews should not even be talking to those people much less offering them a blessing. They begin to ask: How should we treat people different from us? Why is it that even Jesus had to be held accountable to his own ideals? What about this woman’s actions make her faithful?
One of the kids recalls seeing something in the news about people protesting in Ferguson, MO following the shooting of unarmed teenager Michael Brown. She asks: Is this story kind of like what happened in Ferguson? They begin to discuss how protesters are like the Canaanite woman, being faithful to God by demanding that police and other authorities treat them with basic human respect. They should be able to walk down the street without the fear of being harassed or even killed by police. One of the parents asks, “So what can we do about it?” One of the kids chimes in, “We can listen to everyone we see, especially if they think differently than us.” The other says, “We can pray for people in Ferguson to love each other and listen to each other.” And, “When we hear people talking about Ferguson, we have the courage to say what we think about it.”
Then the family prays, lifting up the people of Ferguson, MO and all people who are victimized by racial injustice. They pick up their mugs and bowls, put them in the sink and rush off to their busy day, wondering how they might be kinder and more understanding today.
OK. I know this is some progressive, church nerd fantasy about family faith formation. But, it’s not that outrageous of a dream.
Here’s all it would take:
1.) Learning a little about Biblical cultural context.
2.) Comfort with talking about scripture and praying at home.
3.) Knowing that faith has something to do with our everyday lives.
Those who profess to follow Jesus must recognize that God speaks to us through the lens of time; always calling us to greater love of ourselves, our neighbors, even those we perceive to be enemies. We are called to live this first in our homes and our daily lives. This practice will likely inspire greater and greater integration of faith into life. Integrated faith lives means that people will feel compelled to do something about racial injustice.
Family ministry can and will change the world. One Family at A Time. Maybe it will even prevent the racial violence that tore Michael Brown’s family apart.
Resources and Ideas for Talking about Faith and Public Life:
- READ: 10 Things White People Can Do About Ferguson Besides Tweet
- READ: Preaching Reflections on Michael Brown and Ferguson
- Watch the News. Talk about it with your families.
- Practice Faith at Home: Vibrant Faith at Home has hundreds of great resources!
- Follow #ferguson or #racialjustice on Twitter to see the ongoing story that has slipped from the evening news.