Going Deeper

2.26 - 3.2.2024

We want to help you "Go Deeper" by moving Christ a little closer to the center of your life every day. The following resources are provided to help connect the weekly message to your every day life and reveal God's desire to be in relationship with you.


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Pastor Jim Hoffman

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  • SCRIPTURE

    • Luke 2:41-52

    • Matthew 12:46-50 (cf. Mark 3:31-35; Luke 8:19-21)

    • Luke 14:26

  • REFLECTION

    I find it fascinating how much stock or weight we put in a name.  Here in Kansas City there are names everywhere.  Bruce R. Watkins, Emmanuel Cleaver II, Anita B. Gorman, H. Rowe Bartle, Kauffmans, and more.  For sports fans, the names many of us may think of are George Brett, Lenny Dawson, and now Patrick Mahomes II.  Of course, in United Methodist circles we all know that Kansas City is home to Church of the Resurrection and Rev. Adam Hamilton.  We place a lot of value in a name because we know that it represents, among other things, family, heritage, and history.

     

    There are times when I wish I knew more about my family tree.  Hoffman is my last name by grafting, not by blood.  While a child in Tennessee, my great-great grandfather was adopted by Hoffmans.  I do not know much other than two things.  One, his final resting place is Crescent Hill Cemetery just west and north of Adrian, MO.  Second, lying next to him is wife number four.  Unfortunately, I am not famous enough for Henry Louis Gates, Jr. to have me on “Finding Your Roots.”  Still, there is power in knowing your family history – the story behind your name – the ties that bind you to a particular people.  We value family.

     

    If you pay attention to the gospels, you come to realize that Jesus was not a family man.  It started when an old man named Simeon, on the day of dedication, told his mother that her infant son would one day wield a sword that would pierce her soul.  It continued when Jesus was twelve and his parents had to back track to Jerusalem to find him in the temple.  When asked what he was up to, he said, “Do you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?”  More telling is the story of someone interrupting Jesus to let him know that his mother and brothers needed to speak to him.  Jesus replies, “Who is my mother and who are my brothers?  Here are my mother and my brothers!  For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”  Other scriptures add to this picture of Jesus having little or no concern for blood relations.  At least until the cross.

     

    Interpreters tell us that there are two layers to the story of Jesus, his mother, and the beloved disciple.  On the surface, we may see a dying son who is concerned for his mother’s wellbeing.  Therefore, he entrust her care to the disciple that he loved the most.  However, on a deeper level, interpreters tell us that Jesus recognizes the broader understanding of family as community called together by water and the Holy Spirit.  Our allegiance is not just to blood alone.  Rather, our greater allegiance is to the community of faith that God has drawn us to belong.  We do not merely focus on the care, nurture, and health of those with whom we share blood and last name.  We instructed by Jesus to expand our circle of care to those who are our brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers in Christ.  As a parent, I now believe that the greatest thing I can hand on to my children is the call to be a part of a family larger than our last name. 

       

    I invite you to take time and read each of the scriptures above followed by reflection on the questions below.  Reflect on the power of prioritizing family to include the relationship you have with your brothers and sisters in Christ.  Lastly, I pray that God bless the reading of God’s Word and the meditations of your heart.

  • QUESTIONS & ACTIONS

    Questions to Consider this week:

    • Monday:  What have you been taught about prioritizing your family?
    • Tuesday:  How much time and energy do you give toward the material health and security of your family?
    • Wednesday:  What positive or negative images do you still carry around that impacts your understanding of family?
    • Thursday:  How does Jesus interaction with his family inform you?
    • Friday:  What comfort do you derive from Jesus thinking of his mother while dying on the cross?
    • Saturday:  How broadly do you conceive of family, especially family defined by water and the Holy Spirit?

     

    Actions for the Week:

    • Head:  Allow God to stretch and expand your understanding of family.
    • Heart:  Implore God to widen the space in your heart to include your church family. 
    • Hand:  Engage in meaningful participation in the health and healing of people in your faith community.

  • PRAYER

    Merciful God.  It is top of mind our concern for our blood family.  Turmoil in our streets and neighborhoods worries us.  Instability in other countries and foreign affairs creates tension that reverberates in our homes.  The struggling economy affects our care for our family and our ability to be generous.  We find ourselves trapped between – between constant pressure to provide for our family and the struggle to do so adequately.  And now, in this moment, you have presented us with a perspective that we may not have been focused on.  You want us to wrestle with our narrow focus and expand it to include our family defined by the waters of baptism and the Holy Spirit.  You desire that we hold these two values in proper perspective and live into them more fully.  Teach us what it means to value our community of faith, to pray for it daily, and to strive to engage in the needs of it with our whole heart.  Lead us to a greater comprehension and practice of family.  Amen.