Little girl at wedding, wedding of her mother, remarrying. Had lost her daddy in an accident, traumatic. Going around at wedding, "Are you part of my new family? Are you part of my new family?"
Families do much for us--protection, security, belonging. Place to belong. Home is where when you go there, they have to take you in. Families give roots, identity, future. What have you received from your family? I started list. Encouragement, dreams, plans, purposes, belief in self, abilities, capacities/capabilities, knowledge, orientation, worldview, morals. What is on your list? Make the list, at least in your mind. Take a minute. Now, what is not on your list? What is conspicuous by its absence? For mine, what is absent is stuff, things, materials goods, clothes, house. We had them, sort of, not much, 7x10 porch which was closed in was my bedroom.
What do you remember about home? People, relationships, events, experiences. Going to grandma's and sleeping under the table, in the smokehouse, on the back porch, front porch, in the smokehouse.
We are the products of families, shaped, forged continually, altered. Future depends upon family, yet many who study culture and sociology think family is in trouble in our nation. Family under assault, yet family is essential. Love your family. Appreciate your family. Our focus this month, love. Love God, love your neighbor. Love the church. Love one another. But high on the list, although not always included, love your family. Love your parents, children, husband, wife, extended family. Love is the hallmark of family. That is why the church can be called family. Every person has some kind of family experience, good/bad, more/less, little/much. Shapes us, forms us. Make list of people--I'm glad they are not my parents. Ever think that way. John the Baptist came from a family. We know a little about that family, but not too much. But we may know more than we realize. How did John the Baptist know how to act, what to teach, what to say, how to prepare way, how to dress, how to identify Jesus....
Think with me about this simple text. Understand John the Baptist. Think, dream, understand, consider.
I. John the Baptist was blessed with a godly example in his family, v. 6.
Not always easy to be upright, not always easy to maintain connection with God. Easier to let go, give up. Especially because our connection with God is not always easily seen, not always obvious. We may not receive what we wish. Blessings are not guaranteed. John the Baptist's parents may have been significantly older than usual. But he was blessed to live in home with godly example. This is the kind of persons Zechariah and Elizabeth were. If we consider family, love family, value family, let us seek example. Worry about lack of morality in world, worry about lack of morality in the home.
II. John the Baptist was blessed in his family with sense of God's presence, v. 11ff.
God was present, ever present, yet not expected, vs. 12. How respond when God really shows up? Say he's there, believe he's there, but one day, he's there! God is present. What can I do to make my family better, stronger. Know God's presence. Practice God's presence. Think God's presence. Share God's presence. Wake up. Hi, God. Midday, night. Pillow head. First thing and last thing. Let family see it. Part of life.
3. John the Baptist was blessed in his family with a faith that could see beyond the obstacles, v. 18,19,20.
This family was not living merely in present, but also in future. Faith. A sense of the future. Preparation, 17.
Focus this month on family, youth. What is this church about? What are we doing? What about your family?
Family is a place where principles are learned, values are nurtured, ethics are developed. Family is where I learn what is real, develop a worldview. If there is goodness in my life, it is some family, phys. or spiritual. If there is spiritual awareness, awareness of God, it is some family. This is future. This is hope. This is all that we can be, even though we are not yet. This is where we connect with life. Ready or not! God give us families with parents like Zechariah and Elizabeth. Make us like your faithful people in every age. Help us set examples, know your presence, and act in faith. May our children see us, and our children's children after us. May our homes be havens of love, places of compassion and acceptance, harbors of hope.
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