What does the word ‘family’ mean? Well, obviously the word refers to people who are bound together by blood. You know that old saying? Blood is thicker than water. There you go. Family is your parents, siblings, relatives. Those are the people you can rely on, call in the middle of the night, ask for help whenever you need it. Family is the core of our society and rightly so.
But let me tell you something:
Family is so much more than that. I came to Lubbock, Texas just two weeks ago and already found a new family. I’m very happy with the one I already have, don’t get me wrong. At home in Germany I have a gentle and wise father, two wonderful younger sisters and a baby niece. And yes, due to the time difference this family actually is calling me in the middle of the night these days.
But when I arrived here in Texas, I was quickly introduced to another kind of family. A church family. Did you just think: Doesn’t that girl have a church family in Germany? Yes. Yes… and no. Because the family I found here is different. It is different because the people of this church do not share their denominations. They do not worship in the same ways and even what they believe might differ from one person to the next. But there is one thing these people have in common. At some point in their lives they have been told that something about them is not quite right, that the way they are is wrong in the eyes of God. Mind you, these people do believe in God. They love God. Yet they have been told that God doesn’t love them as long as they live their lives how they feel they should. There is a gorgeous young woman full of jokes and with an open heart. Yet you can tell that something about her is different. There are two gentlemen who are the kindest and gentlest people you can imagine. Yet, when you see them around each other, you can also tell that something is not as expected.
The home of this new family is the Metropolitan Community Church Lubbock. They call it an inclusive church, meaning that everyone is welcome, no matter the denomination or background. So of course the people you see there during the services are incredibly diverse in all ways imaginable. The church is also very welcoming to the LGBT community which further adds to its celebration of diversity. And it are these people who welcomed me into their midst like one of their own in barely a few days. They have treated me like family from the very first day on even although I’m not even from their country, nor share their denomination, their language, their culture.
But what about ‘blood is thicker than water’? Well, many people say that this proverb is incomplete. The full version would be: ‘The blood of the covenant is thicker than the water of the womb.’ It is the covenant with God sealed through the blood of Jesus Christ that is thicker than the connection you have with your related family. It are the people you choose and love in and through that covenant that can be more meaningful than those whose genome you share. Isn’t that beautiful? The blood that was spilled for you so you can go out into the word and be a sibling to those in need is thicker than what genetics forced on you.
So it is this “blood-family” that I found here and love so much. They value me not because I DO or AM something or someone important or special. They value me because they are my siblings in God’s love. They understand that God is family. And yes, family is still the core of our society.
I am very grateful to have found these people, their hospitality and infinite care. Already after two weeks many of them found their way into my heart. And will stay there.