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Mark 3:20-35
Who is our family?

June is not only Pride month, but it is also Indigenous History Month. One of the ways we can learn more about Indigenous history is through wampum belts. These beautifully crafted pieces of art are memory aids through which Indigenous peoples tell stories, connect spiritually to tradition and heritage, and remind those symbolised in the belts of the relationships and expectations to which they have agreed. For example, the two-row wampum belt provides an illustration of the initial encounter between the Mohawk/Haudenosaunee and Dutch peoples with the parallel purple rows representing the ways in which each travel separately as siblings and equals along the river of life carrying their wisdom and practices while being joined together by peace, righteousness, and power.

And (Jesus) replied, ‘Who are my mother and my (siblings)?’ And looking at those who sat around him, he said, ‘Here are my mother and (siblings)! Whoever does the will of God is my (sibling) and mother.’

It would be easy to hear this story and think that Jesus was somehow distancing himself from his family. This feels surprising to those of us who value biological relationships. In fact, there is a long history of privileging biological relationships over all others. After all, it is through biological lines that inheritance typically happens. We have namesakes, family businesses, homesteads, and a whole host of other ways in which family influences and informs generations.

The genealogy of Jesus which links him to King David illustrates how important family is in the biblical traditions too. Judaic law includes many statements that reinforce the importance blood relations, which, actually could have attributed to marginalization for Jesus, given his questionable parentage. Blood kin can connect individuals across generations and establishes their place in the community.

And (Jesus) replied, ‘Who are my mother and my (siblings)?’

While blood relations can be important to understanding who we are and our place in the community, the way Jesus poses this question reinforces that our responsibility to build relationships that are respectful, and reciprocal doesn’t end with bloodlines. In Jesus, we are told that love colours outside the bloodlines! In Jesus, we are connected as siblings to all God’s beloved children no matter who they are, where they come from, or how they present themselves. In Jesus we are reminded that whatever we do to the least of these who are members of his family, we do to Jesus.

And if we miss this point in the Gospels, Paul and other authors of the Epistles likewise use the language of brothers, sisters, and siblings in reference to connections made in the early churches. This language is intentional, inviting us to see bonds more deeply, to colour and connect outside of bloodlines. Encouraging us to engage in building relationships that are respectful, and reciprocal with diverse individuals. Challenging us to see others as being equally valued to our own blood relations.

What would it look like for us, as predominantly settler peoples, to treat Indigenous peoples as our siblings? What does it look like to treat the 2SLGBTQIA+ community as siblings? What does it look like to treat those who are neurodivergent or those with disabilities as siblings? What does it look like to treat racialized people as siblings? How does it change our perspectives, priorities, and attitudes when we see diverse individuals as siblings, members of our family?

Would we want a member of our family to struggle? Would we stand on the sidelines if a member of our family was being abused? Would we shrug our shoulders and remain ignorant if a member of our family was being marginalised, mistreated, and undermined? What difference does it make when we see the person in need as someone whom we care for deeply, a member of our family?

And (Jesus) replied, ‘Who are my mother and my (siblings)?’ And looking at those who sat around him, he said, ‘Here are my mother and (siblings)! Whoever does the will of God is my (sibling) and mother.’

Jesus continues to look around at us and sees siblings. That makes us family not only with each other, but with all of God’s beloved children. Indeed, there is no one we can look upon that God doesn’t already love. Welcome to family. May we love our siblings as we love ourselves. This we pray as we sing: (VT) 582 My Love Colours Outside the Lines