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  • Pastor Mark Carlson

We Are Family

The scriptures use a variety of imagery to depict who the Church is in relationship to God and to one another. Followers of Jesus are referred to as a body, ambassadors, a flock, and a priesthood. When I attend events like Midwinter, the Covenant’s annual conference for pastors and staff, I am most mindful of the Church as a family.

For me, the experience is not all that different from attending a family reunion, seeing family that you have not seen in a long time, had forgotten about, or maybe even had not met yet. To extend the metaphor, there are uncles and aunts to connect with, and to thank - those who have been mentors, teachers, and influencers on my faith journey and call to ministry. There are the cousins to catch up with - friends and colleagues whom I have intersected with over the years and share life together. Some of these cousins date all the way back to seminary and even from my youth group growing up.

I am thankful for this extended family of the Covenant and the way it has shaped both me and my ministry. I am thankful that our local Mac Cov family is connected to a larger denominational family that emphasizes we are better together than we are apart as we seek to go deeper in Christ and further in mission. I am thankful that Mac Cov lives into what it means to be part of God’s family, as Paul says, being joined together and giving glory to God by accepting each other just as Christ accepted us. (paraphrase)

While many may often idealize the notion of family as warm and fuzzy where everyone is happy, being family comes with its challenges. Being family can be messy and complicated. People have different ideas and beliefs. Sometimes people choose to leave the family which can cause hurt or confusion. While these challenges can sting, we can also lean into celebrating our life together. We can be attentive to new people who are considering joining the family. We can focus on what it means to make room and welcome newcomers who are “open for adoption” - seeking a church home and a place where they can be among family.

As it says in Hebrews, “the One who saves and those who are saved have a common origin, Jesus doesn’t hesitate to treat them as family.” That’s good news! As God’s family we are not called to settle and to be comfortable, but to allow ourselves to be transformed from the inside out by Jesus’ work in and through us. To be a place that seeks to make disciples, who make disciples, who make disciples. That’s our family legacy!

I am looking forward to opportunities coming up where we get to be family in special ways. The All-Church Formation Class on February 11 at 9:15 a.m. will focus on different forms of prayer. There will be ways to engage with how to pray for all ages. Likewise, the Ash Wednesday service on February 14 at 7 p.m. will be an opportunity to join with our family as we turn our hearts and minds towards the season of Lent together.

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