Prov 8:22-31 (modified for inclusive language)
The voice we hear is the personified Wisdom in Proverbs. She, known to some as Sophia, is co-creating right beside and within and as a part of God, sings of the world and humanity begotten, not by necessity but by grace. Her song:
The Lord created me at the beginning of God’s work,
the first God’s acts of long ago.
Ages ago I was set up,
at the first, before the beginning of the earth.
When there were no depths I was brought forth,
when there were no springs abounding with water.
Before the mountains had been shaped,
before the hills, I was brought forth--
when God had not yet made earth and fields,
or the world’s first bits of soil.
When God established the heavens, I was there,
when a circle was drawn on the face of the deep,
when God made firm the skies above,
when established were the fountains of the deep,
when God assigned to the sea its limit,
so that the waters might not transgress the command,
when marked out were the foundations of the earth,
then I was beside God, like a master worker;
and I was daily God’s delight,
rejoicing before God always,
rejoicing in God’s inhabited world
and delighting in the human race.
I went to Northampton Pride last weekend. Pride is the public affirmation a community as it celebrates Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender identities, all wrapped into a march, a fair, and Food Trucks. It’s part political, part performance; part recognition of the violence and discrimination against the LGBTQ community and part solidarity and commitment towards equal rights and wholeness. I LOVE Pride.
What a gorgeous array of humanity, all created in God’s own image, all in whom God delights! People of lived experiences across the spectrum of gender and sexuality, connecting in a celebration of who they are, how they have been created! We marched with a few other UCC churches and hundreds of faithful people putting a face to God’s Radical Love, reaching out to those who have been hurt, those who have been oppressed, those who have been told “no.” The delight spread. Smiles, signs offering “free hugs,” children laughing and marching and reaching out, each hand to a different Mom with little fingers intertwined with fierce parental Love, and SO MANY COLORS floating up in rainbow bridged balloons. Parents holding signs declaring, “PROUD PARENT OF A GAY SON” or “I LOVE MY TRANS DAUGHTER,” and abounding care, connection and community even between those people who have never met before.
When God created the world, God delighted in humanity. In God’s infinite wisdom, God knew what God was doing. As the psalmist celebrates, “it was You who formed my inward parts, you who knit me together in my mother’s womb! I praise you for I am fearfully and wonderfully made!…. In your book were written all the days that were formed for me, when none of them yet existed.” (Ps. 139, 13-14, 16b) God knew that humanity would explode into this diversity of families and colors and ways of connecting in Love. God knew, and God delighted.
And there is so much here upon which to delight! Especially as the world itself renews it’s creation in the springtime, each bud and flower possessing a certain amount of hope and newness for what will come in each of our lives. God’s Wisdom, with God from the beginning of creation, is beyond our understanding, the sum of God’s thoughts is more than the sand. We see around us that creation did not stop on the day that God rested and declared it “good”… God has created and is creating every single day, in this world, and in each of us, in each of our neighbors and kindred in Christ.
Today, in thinking of the families that we are born into, raised within, and choose for ourselves, some honor they who have taken mothering roles. For some of us, we can smile and hand over flowers, or a card, or laugh at pictures meant for the refrigerator. For others, we still hear the words of our mothers even though she is no longer with us, in conversation with our day-to-day lives. For many, the mothering role goes beyond the immediate family and into the adults in our lives that have taken us on and in and showered us with love beyond what was immediately available. Is one mother created more important, more valid, than another in the eyes of God? Or is the way in which each mother has helped created us into who we are today measurable against another’s experience?
Pride celebrations show, with clarity and joy such a beautiful spectrum of family. And the ways in which what “family” means has grown from what it meant years ago. Like many who were there at Pride on Saturday, Jesus’s closest family is chosen. He calls each of his disciples by name to become family. Further, he expands the definition of family beyond the immediate, the nuclear, to become “whoever does the will of God.” (Mark 3:34-35, cf. Matt. 12:46-50; Luke 8:19-21)
Christianity’s assumed focus on the traditional family is only about 150 years old, and the immediate nuclear family since the 1950’s.
However, the Bible’s look at family is much much broader. Given families in the Bible are often of convenience, and chosen families are given much more weight. Consider Joseph’s family selling him off and his adoption of the People Israel as family. Consider Ruth leaving her family to join Naomi. Consider David’s adoption into the house of Saul. Consider Jesus, leaving his birth family to spend time in the temple and with his God, and encouraging his disciples to leave their wives behind. The Bible family is rarely nuclear.
Further, looking around the families that I know and love and probably even those reading this sermon, I know that family goes far beyond the Immediate, and Nuclear. It looks something more like what we see on TV in Modern Family– with each of our families including a wide, wide, WIDE spectrum of people that skip in and out across all the lines that might divide us.
The show depicts a documentary-esque look at a Modern Family– with the patriarch Jay, divorced and remarried to the younger gorgeous latina Gloria, with her step son and their brand new baby, and also following Jay’s two adult kids: Clare with her husband and three teenaged kids, and Mitchell with his– well, where we are now, with his ABOUT to be husband (after so many years!) and their delightfully snarky Vietnamese daughter…. who insists that she’ll wear a princess costume to their wedding airing next week. The thing is, they don’t always agree all the time. And it hasn’t always been easy. There have been issues that have divided that family– like Jay’s marrying Gloria, or making peace with how to love his son and his gay identity just where he is, and not where Jay expected him to be.
Thing is though, that’s not unique. In all of our families, birth, given and/or chosen, we bicker. We may even not speak for years. And yet, we pull the people we call “family” close to us in Love, and choose to remain in relationship. In creating our own families, we get a small, small taste of what a creating God gets to delight in every moment of every day.
God delights in humanity. God is creating and re-creating us each and every day. God’s Radical Love pours forth in creation. I know that there are so many people who have an intimate lens on what that means even here. Creating family is more and more an intentional thing! We bring children into our lives sometimes through the old-fashioned way– yes, that…. and it seems so often through the help of medical intervention, or in vitro fertilization, or foster care, or adoption we delight in creating family. We are offered choices before our babies are even born regarding their sex or their health risks and concerns. We pray, we do the best we can, we offer our selves as their family, creating something new.
God, and God’s Wisdom have been alongside each of us as we are made new each day. God delights in the diversity of the human race, the ways in which each of us love, and make family for ourselves. God’s Wisdom is deeper than we know, more numerous than the grains of sand, and the vision for the world God continues to Create goes on each and every day. Thank God for those who have mothered us into the people we are today. Thank God for families– the people that have offered their DNA, the people who have raised us, and the people we choose to be in relationship today. Thank God for the way in which we are all Beloved in Christ, for Jesus claims us as his own family: we who do the will of God.
Martin, Dale B. “Familiar Idolatry and the Christian Case Against Marriage,” Authorizing Marriage: Canon, Tradition, and Critique in the Blessing of Same-Sex Unions. Edited by: Mark D. Jordon with Meghan T. Sweeney, and David M. Mellott. (New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 2006.) pg 16