Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Who Do You Think You Are?

I spent the morning with 'form,' the discipleship school at St Thomas' (this year, thirty-something twenty-somethings in the first year, plus a team of about six leaders; also, around a dozen, covering a wider age-range, in 'form2'). Every time I do so (this was, I think, the fourth or fifth time so far this academic year), I have a really good time. They are a great bunch of guys and girls, and I count it a privelege that they keep inviting this rambling fool to spend time with them.

Today I was talking about families, and how both curses and blessings flow down family lines. (This is not the place to go into the theology, but all those genealogies in the Bible are edited highlights that trace the flow of blessings and curses - ancestral names referencing family stories - and place a person in that context. It's not a simplistic, deterministic thing; but it isn't hard to identify repeated patterns - both destructive and constructive - in different generations of one family either...)

I got them to think about Jesus' family line, and how in Jesus the blessings flow on through, and the curses are not merely stopped in their tracks but redeemed so that further blessings flow there too. (Again, this is not the place to develop my points. But [I'm told] I do a good half-day on all this, if you've got one.) We also thought about what it means to honour your father and your mother that you may live long in the land God gives you, which I suggested might break down into thanking them for what they got right (from which blessings were able to flow); forgiving them for what they got wrong (we all get things wrong, and most parents carry a burden of guilt about their failings...forgiving allows God to work to redeem the curses that followed); and stewarding the blessings - including redeemed curses - we have received in order that others might be blessed through us (which is to live in the inheritance we have been given).

I got them to spend time on their own thinking about their family, identifying blessings - including blessings they found hard to receive, for whatever reason - and curses - including what it might look like for those curses to be redeemed; then to share their story in threes, and to pray for each other.

Some interesting things (make of them what you will, bearing in mind that every family is different, but also that as a group these are relatively mature and relatively positive young adults):
1. Over half the group listed curses first.
2. Over half the group listed more curses than blessings.
3. Around half the group had listed more blessings that they struggled to receive than blessings that they had embraced...

God put us in families - and didn't make a mistake with that strategy. But, looking at the state of the family in the C21 UK, we really need to receive the freedom Jesus came to bring. And that, for me at any rate, is definitely a work in progress...


  1. NICKY WILLIAMS6:24 am

    Hi Andrew, i agree that God put us in families and didn't make a mistake about that strategy. BUT what happens when those original families fall apart, due to our human decisions? Are the new families that are then formed (non tradiional extended families)also Gods' strategy?
    That is a big questiion for me, as I can honestly say I would find it extremely difficult to find blessings from those families, unless of course I count blessing that I have realised many years later God has turned into from the many curses?????? But I wouldn't count these as from my family, but as confirmation that God never leaves us and uses every situation, whether good or bad,to turn in something beneficial and to help us grow.
    Just a thought
    Nicky xxxx

    P.S. great exercise to do, may well pinch it for fluid at some point if you are ok with that? ;-)

  2. Hi Nicky.
    To be honest, I'm not sure that non-traditional extended families really are non-traditional: I read the stories of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob, etc., and think, yes, that's contemporary!
    And what I see in those stories is that blessings and curses run in families, regardless of their make-up. Sometimes, especially because we hurt one another and are hurt by one another, it can be hard to identify blessings...sometimes it can be hard to identify curses that need to be redeemed. But God does want to nurture the good and redeem the bad.

    I don't mind you pinching the exercise for fluid, but I wonder whether the younger end of fluid might be a little too young? I don't know, I've not tried it with younger than late-teens/early-twenties. Give it a go...