The other weekend, Annie and I went to see the new Star Wars movie. It’s the last of the series of movies that have been grouped into three trilogies, and this final trilogy follows the main character, Rey, in her discovery of her force powers, her calling as a Jedi, and how she saves the galaxy from evil—more or less. But a huge part of this otherwise massively heroic plotline is Rey’s search for her parents.
Now, I’ll skip over the specifics in case anyone hasn’t seen it yet and doesn’t want any spoilers, but the discovery of her identity—her lineage, her parents, who she is—has a major impact on her. Being able to name who she is, being able to define that identity, also helps shape who she’ll become, what her destiny will look like, how her actions are shaped. Identity, being able to name who we are, matters. And it matters more than just what you call yourself.
I like to joke that my family is like the Hotel California—“you can check out anytime you like, but you can never leave.” My parents, maybe by accident, ended up making our family system one that sucks people in like a black hole of love, adopting friends to become like family who become part of what we always did. It’s why, even after my sister’s first marriage has been over for going on six years, her stepkids are still very much my niece and nephew. My parents have always valued being family to whoever needs it; it’s one of those things I’m glad they taught me growing up.
And being a close knit family isn’t something that’s outside of the experience for us at Our Savior’s. It feels like every other week I discover some new family connection in the congregation; people I didn’t realize were related (well, I knew they were related, but I didn’t know how). So when Paul talks about the church being the family of God, and the members being children of God—well, we get a really good picture of that. We here are a literal family!
But there’s a different reason we’re family as a church. It’s not the fact that y’all are all each other’s relatives by blood or by marriage—no, what makes us family as the Church is the Holy Spirit. And the Spirit is a spirit of adoption, as Paul writes, God’s free choice to make us part of the family. God brings us in together, and whether or not we have anyone we’re related to in the congregation, we are family because we are in the Spirit.