Who is Our Family? 

31 Then his mother and his brothers came, and standing outside they sent to him and called him. 32 A crowd was sitting around him, and they said to him, “Your mother and your brothers are outside asking for you.” 33 And he replied, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” 34 And looking at those who sat around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! 35 Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.”   (Mark 3:31-35)

 Last week, I had an opportunity to visit one of my friends who lost her father and had just returned from his funeral service in Korea. I spent some time with her, listening to her grief over the loss of her beloved father. She felt sad that she couldn’t have more time with him due to her ministry in the USA. I empathized with her deeply, recalling that I also couldn’t be with my elder sister, who passed away two years ago, and I couldn’t even visit her during her hospitalization. However, it is not just her and my own personal experiences of living apart from loved ones that we share.  Many of us have similar experiences of losing loved ones at some point in our lives, and we might regret not having more time with them. It is a part of our life’s journey.

Sometime we gain additional family members, such as when new babies are born or through the marriages of family members. Other times, we lose our loved ones. We face joy and sadness, aging and renewal, decline and restoring in our lives. We may experience similar cycles in both our individual spiritual life and physical lives.

What about the church? Yes, of course, the church is also similar to our family lives. We sometime gain more members or lose members. However, we may have slightly different experiences in church compared to family if you only focus on the number of congregants. It is important to increase the number of members in church, but it is also crucial that we focus on our growth in faith and love. Therefore, we observe March as Membership Caring Month. Some of you may not be familiar with “Membership Caring Month.” We began this two years ago to emphasize our collective growth in faith and love as a family in Jesus Christ. We should care for our members in everyday life, not only in March. Surely, we should do this.

Membership caring is akin to the care found in a family. A family is one of the smallest communities in society, consisting of those in the best intimate, loving, and caring relationships. They eat at the same table, sleep at the same place, share their joys and concerns, carry burdens together, and seek solution collectively. If we can call a group a family, it should function in the same way.

We refer to our congregation as a church family. The church family is composed of those who believe in salvation through our faith in Jesus Christ by the grace of God. We gather together at the Lord’s Table and we share our joys and concerns. When one among us experiences joy, we celebrate together; when one faces concerns, we offer care and support through prayers. If a member of our family does not join the table, we wonder if something is amiss and we reach out to them, encouraging them to join us. This is the essence of family and familiar care. However, if we do not care whether all of our family members come to the table, it ceases to be a family.

Jesus has given us the definition of family in Mark 3:31-35. While Jesus was teaching the people, someone said, “Your mother and siblings came and asked you to come out.” Jesus replied, “Who is my family?” Looking at the people with him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. Whoever does God’s will are my brothers and sisters and mother!” In other words, the church family consists of those who gather together at the Lord’s Table (Communion) and those who follow God’s will, loving God and loving our neighbors. If we do this, who are our family members, and what should we do for them? The reason we observe Membership Caring Month is to focus more on our church members —who they are, what they do, and how we can support one another. Let’s check on each other, ensuring our well-being in Jesus Christ, and grow together in faith and love. We are a family within the body of Christ.


Pastor Jenny