BUV Devotion Part 4
Remember Who You Are: Family of God
by Rev Meewon Yang
God has given us family as a gift no matter whether it is biological, adopted or blended. No family is perfect and sometimes it is deeply dysfunctional. But family can be a place of love and blessing that blesses others.
I left my birth family to find new life in Australia and it has now been over 30 years. My migrant experience in Australia is a bit like the younger son in the Prodigal who tries to understand where home is. I long to be with my family.
With marriage the world opened to me and included west and east. My family is no longer just Korean. My life is multicultural. My step-son and his wife and almost two-year old granddaughter are welcomed in my life. They get to know Korean culture and I get to know their Anglo-Australian world. My two Korean nephews who studied and live here are also part of my family.
There were moments of adjustment to my expectation of being the wife of an eldest son. In Korea the eldest son is responsible for the family. Here he isn’t. All the siblings are the same and relate to one another as equals.
Henri Nouwen reflects on Rembrandt’s painting ‘The Return of the Prodigal Son’ in his book of the same name (Luke 15:11-32). He describes the return as a spiritual journey. He says,
“He led me from the kneeling, dishevelled younger son to the standing, bent-over old father; from the place of being blessed to the place of blessing. As I look at my hands, I know that they have been given to me to stretch out toward all who suffer, to rest upon the shoulders of all who come and to offer the blessing that emerges from the immensity of God’s love.”
He talks about the gospel story and how the painting changed his vocation. He discovered new strengths and pastored to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. They became his family.
As I reflect on what my family experience is and what its connection with God’s family is, I become more aware that at the core of Christian identity is an all-inclusive experience of family in Christ.
We Christians are always drawn forward by the hopeful picture of the Kingdom of God where differences are a cause for celebration and do not result in conflict or tension. The experience of being part of the family of God is a hint of the Kingdom. This family life enables people to dream together and find hope, grace and new life even as we are in this pandemic lock-down.
I love Desmond Tutu’s children story book titled ‘God’s Dream’ (a favourite of my granddaughter). He says,
God dreams that every one of us will see that we are all brothers and sisters – yes,
Even you and me – even if we have different mummies and daddies or live in different faraway lands…
Even if we speak different languages or have different ways of talking to God.
Even if we have different eyes or different skin…
Even if you are taller and I am smaller. Even if your nose is little and mine is large………
Dear child of God, do you know how to make God’s dream come true?
It is really quite easy. As easy as sharing, loving, caring.
As easy as holding, playing, laughing.
As easy as knowing we are one big family because we are all God’s children.
Will you help God’s dream come true?
Let me tell you a secret… God smiles like a rainbow when you do.
God’s dream is captured in the song ‘In God’s family’ by the late Ross Langmead, our dear friend and former lecturer at Whitley College.
What grace, to make us your people!
What love, to call us your own!
What power, to make us your body!
What care! We’re never alone
Because you have called us together.
Oh, incredible love! We’re in God’s family.
Some questions for personal and/or group reflection
1. What do you learn from the Prodigal Son about the family of God?
2. What change does this lead to as you think about family and the loving father?
3. How can this be real in this time of isolation? Look around at the diversity and fragility of our church and communities.
- People’s situation in fear of safety of health and uncertainty about future
- Missing people
4. Where can we start to help God’s dream come true?
I hope you find this devotion and the reflection questions useful. We look forward to distributing Part 5 next Tuesday. You can also read previous devotions here.
Rev Meewon Yang
BUV Multicultural Consultant
 Henri Nouwen is a Priest, theologian and University lecturer became Pastor in a community for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu won the Nobel Prize in 1984 for his efforts to bring equality, justice, and peace to South Africa. Nelson Mandela asked him to lead the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which became a model of national forgiveness and coexistence.