But recently, I was thinking about Jesus (after all, Christmas is about Him, right?) and His response to family. Remember this passage from Luke?
I think we often read this with subtle shock, as Jesus seems to totally set aside his mother and brothers. Were they really that unimportant, that he wouldn't give them any kind of special treatment at all? I think though, that Jesus is here just blowing open our definition of family. While family is fantastic, I think we often have a tendency, especially around Christmas, to narrow our view of who "counts" as family. But if we truly desire to live like Jesus did, we'll have to expand our definition as well.
Family is defined as "those who hear God's word and put it into practice." In the Hall household, extended relatives have often been far away during the holidays, so I think we kind of fell into this broader definition of family by default. We have many "adopted" Aunts and Uncles, Grandparents and Cousins who we've spent our holidays with. Just today, our house was full of friends, decorating cookies, and we had dinner with our most recent adopted Grandparents, Jan and Gary.
Even Jesus shared His first Christmas with people who weren't blood relatives. The shepherds and the wisemen heard God's word (from the angels, and the star and prophecies), and put it into practice by seeking for the baby. Can you imagine Mary's discomfort? With all the worrying we do about getting the house clean for company. . . she had just had a baby. In a stable, no less. Not exactly a setting you want "non-family" people to see you in. And yet, going back to what Jesus said, they are family.
I think this challenges us to let go of our narrow definition of family, and the stress that comes with it - cleaning frenzies and putting on our "perfect" behavior. Who can we include as "family" this year? And how can we change our hearts, so we can focus more on loving them as family, rather than impressing them?