Holy Disfunction

Today we celebrate the Holy Family. Many love to use it as an metaphor for a “hoo-rah the family is the proper unit of keeping our world together isn’t it wonderful” life.

I do not.

Those of us who come from a broken family or have lived with a toxic relationship with a parent hate hearing these sermons. They celebrate a life that just doesn’t look like anything we’ve ever seen. Intentionally or not, those preaching these sermons are attacking us with guilt over something we had no way to control, guilt that we do not deserve. Calling this an attack is not being thin-skinned or overly sensitive. This is not a rip-a-band-aid-off-to-let-air-at-the-cut type of hurt. This is a deep-muscle-slash-cauterized-wound-requiring-skin-grafts-physiotherapy-and-years-of -treatment type of hurt. We are an unfortunately large part of the church that has been traumatized by a family member. We are not “angry over a spanking.” We are people who have been damaged through repeated acts of assault, of multiple varieties, perpetrated by someone we were supposed to trust.

So why am I celebrating the Holy Family?

Because the Holy Family was made-up.

Now before anyone who made it through that other paragraph without screaming decides to begin doing so I am not saying they are make-believe. I believe in a literal family of three people as they are portrayed in the Gospels. I believe that they made their family. They chose their family.

We have Miriam, a young woman who is inexplicably pregnant and not only didn’t hide that fact but literally wandered around the country visiting her extended family pointing it out while prophesying, a rather male activity, the whole time. We have Yosef, a man who had to be visited by God in a dream to get him to actually go through with the marriage to this rather odd woman who wouldn’t stop talking about how God thought she was special. We have the child, Yeshua, who was so precocious at twelve we can only imagine what he was like as a toddler.

Miriam could have stayed unmarried. She chose to say yes to God. She chose to openly prophesy. She was chose to wander about the countryside on her own while pregnant. She chose to let random strangers walk into a barn and worship her child. She chose to be a part of the Holy Family.

Yusef could have said no. He chose to accept that marrying someone sinful in the eyes of his neighbours, even though she wasn’t sinful in the eyes of God. He chose to accept that his wife, not him, had a holy calling. He chose to not obey the law and let his new son be killed in an act of genocide. He chose to be a part of the Holy Family.

Yeshua could have left. The precocious child chose to stay with this odd couple of who didn’t fit the picture of a ‘typical’ family. He chose to listen to his mother’s requests as an adult even if he thought them different, “make wine? seriously mom?” He chose to be a part of the Holy Family.

We can choose to make up our family. We can choose to leave a life of pain. We can choose to make a new life without pain. We can choose to not listen to someone tell us our made up family isn’t real simply because it doesn’t look like the neighbours. We can choose to follow in the footsteps of a couple of Jewish weirdos with their rather important kid.