Sermon on June 12, 2022


by Markus Schäller

Blessed family

When it comes to the keyword “family”, the “bells” that start ringing in our heads have quite different sounds – depending on age, experience and life situation. Parents, grandparents or single parents will read the following lines differently than young people and single people.
As individuals, we are like links in a long chain of ancestors that we cannot choose. We can only influence whether and how the chain continues after us, although the future of the chain is uncertain. Only the past is certain.
Some have had such bad experiences with families that they tend to put the topic aside. Some resolve to do everything differently from their parents, but this rarely works in practice. If you are planning to get married, you should be aware that by saying yes, you are not only “marrying” your partner, but an entire family. Even if a couple decides to emigrate to a remote Pacific island, kinship will be on board again in the form of internalized imprints. – Because the distribution of valuable and lousy “heirlooms” is anything but fair, I think it’s wise to a) accept the family of origin for granted and b) take or make the best of it.
In the following I would like to use selected Bible texts to show to what extent family and blessing are connected and why people with problematic family relationships can also become a blessing.


1. Blessing of Creation
bless, ” barak ” in Hebrew, means something like “to award a healing power”. The Greek word for blessing, ” eulogia “, accordingly means a “good saying”. Wishing all the best and “health” on your birthday is, for example, such a blessing, although one may ask how much “healing power” this phrase-like formulation has. But when God speaks good things about a creature, there are always concrete consequences. – So also in the first text of the Bible, which refers to family:
“And God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him, male and female he created them. And God said to them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth…” (Genesis 1:27-28).
The addressees of God’s blessing are man and woman, who, as creatures that complement each other, can only do together what they have been commissioned and blessed to do: bring forth new generations of people “in the image of God”. Those who live family in this sense can rightly call themselves “ blessed ones ”. – Dear parents, it is probably not always easy to raise your children to be able to live, but please be aware of your Adals , which you have as a blessing bearer! On the other hand, anyone who disturbs the family , disregards being a man or woman, or even tries to dissolve them, robs them and others of this blessing.


2. Blessings by honoring parents
The blessing of God is only aimed at the “links” that are to follow, but also looks in the other direction:
“Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land which the Lord your God is giving you.” (Exodus 20:12)
The unmistakable command is followed by a deeply earthly promise of blessing, from which it can be concluded: a people that do not honor their parents have no future. But what does this “honour” mean in practice? The Hebrew word kabed could be rendered as “to make it difficult”, but this does not mean that one should “make it difficult” for the parents. Rather, it’s about the “weight,” the priority you give them by valuing them, caring for them, and possibly caring for them when it’s needed. – Even if it is important for (young) people on the way to marriage to break away from the “primary bond” with father and mother (Genesis 2:24), parents are and will remain important people in life.


3. Contagious Blessing
At least since the beginning of the corona crisis , we have known how to interpret the term ” superspreader “: germ carriers that infect others on a large scale. In a positive sense, there are also ” super spreaders of blessings”. Abraham is called to such a place.
“Get out of your country and out of your kindred and out of your father’s house into the land that I will show you. And I want to make you a great nation and I want to bless you and I want to make your name great and you shall be a blessing! And I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse, and in you shall all families of the earth be blessed.” (Genesis 12:1-3)
Some people spread fun, others chaos, and still others hate or fear. Abraham, on the other hand, always brought a portion of this “contagious blessing” with him. – What a genius vocation! Through him, his family, his descendants, the blessing eventually spreads all over the earth.
If you continue reading Genesis 12, however, weaknesses of the blessing bearer also become apparent. In order to save his own skin, he passes his pretty wife Sarai as a sister when he enters Egypt. In doing so, he de facto sells her into the royal harem. A mysterious illness at the pharaoh’s court finally uncovers the swindle and the man of God gets to hear: “Why didn’t you tell me that? Take your wife and go!” – The pharaoh could not have known that he would incur a curse if he became involved with Sarai . But the failure lies with Abraham himself: he does not trust in God, he does not live up to his calling. Instead of the blessing, he brings a disease to Egypt. – Whether one could draw conclusions about Christians who do not live according to their vocation? Maybe one day they too will hear their neighbors ask: Why didn’t you tell me that?” After all, it is also their calling to bring blessings into all the world (Matthew 28:19-20).


4. Blessing Lines
In the Old Testament, God makes history with families. He “keeps his grace unto thousands of generations” but also visits “the iniquity of the fathers unto the third and fourth generations” (Exodus 34:6-7). Even if such statements hardly fit our individualistic way of thinking, we must first of all state: The question of who the “chain links before us” were is not unimportant! There are blessings that go back generations and there are ancestral burdens.
It is remarkable that in the middle of the genealogical trees of Israel people appear again and again who do not belong there. For example , de Hure Rahab or Ruth the Moabite . Neither of them had good starting conditions and yet we find them among David’s ancestors. So one cannot say that the family of origin is the all-determining destiny.
We know from Jesus that He considers those who “hear the word of God and do it” as His family (Luke 8:21 ). Elsewhere He warns against getting too proud of being Abraham’s seed (John 8:37-59). – The physical relationship does not vanish into thin air in the New Testament, but decreases in importance in favor of a “spiritual family”. It is not by accident that Christians call each other “brother” and “sister” and address God as their “Father in heaven”. Those who find faith in Jesus sometimes experience very clearly how their own relatives distance themselves. The connection to the “Jesus family” becomes all the stronger: the church.
If you come from a family of blessings, it is certainly not a mistake to live by the motto: “Nobility obliges. – Why should I be the one to destroy the family reputation ?” Having spiritual role models among parents and grandparents is invaluable.
If your family of origin is marked by godlessness, strife and unforgiven guilt, I would like to offer you two other thoughts:
  • Belonging to the family of God is far more important! Your family history need not burden you, for “if any man is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, behold the new has come.” (2 Corinthians 5:17) You can refer to and rely on that.
  • A new line of blessings can begin with you! You can be a blessing to others as a father or mother of biological children and/or as a person who teaches others to follow Jesus.
Welcome to the team of blessing bearers!