When Paris Vardolos is trying to decide which college to go to she suddenly finds that the whole family have pitched up to help her make her choice.
The Vardolos family are nothing if not close. There are lots of them and they live right next door to each other in three houses in the same street. For Paris it’s a bit of a nightmare, as she does her best to be a normal, occasionally sullen and moody kind of teenager. Her family are bright and loud, and think they know best for her as they all pitch in, attempting to steer her academic future and romantic aspirations.
The Bible is full of families, and many of them are not as bright and loud as the Vardolos clan, many, however are dysfunctional. The very first family implode when one of the sons invents homicide. For whatever reason, and we don’t really know, Cain feels rejected whilst his brother is the favourite. Perhaps Cain had always felt that. God knew his growing unhappiness and warned him that sin was crouching at his day, waiting to overtake him, like a wild animal. Overtake him it did, and Cain gave into his anger and murdered his brother.
Another family had murder on their mind. Joseph’s brothers were so fed up of him that they hurled him in a well, only to decide it was more productive to fake his death and make a fast buck out of selling him. Joseph was his father’s favourite son, and Joe’s dreams of grandeur and leadership did not inspire his brothers. Jesus had four brothers and at least two sisters. (Matthew 13 vv 55-56) Maybe more. And on one occasion they tried to trick him into attending a festival and walking into a public nightmare. They feared that he had gone off the rails and wanted… well who knows what, but we’re told in John 7 vv 1-9 that they tried to encourage him to go to a festival where others were intending to trap him. Jesus understands that family life is not always straightforward. He has lived it and can sympathise if things are tough. Ultimately he invited us into a new kind of family (Luke 8 vv 19-21) one united by the desire to follow him. Now that does not necessarily make for easy living either. We come with our own agendas and personalities and world-views. But again, he understands that, and invites us to take it one day at a time.