Sunday, April 8, 2012

Celebrating Easter

Last night at church was our family’s liturgical celebration of Easter.  It was great!  Today on Easter day, however, we’re just spending time together and enjoying each other’s company.  It is a laid back day to rest and have fun.  Nothing big on the agenda, just simple pleasures.  Grandma is making her “famous” enchiladas, which our kids have been looking forward to all week.  To a family with Texas roots, nothing says “celebration” like enchiladas!

Christians in the United States often are known for their advocacy of “family values.”  This advocacy often takes on political ramifications.  And the exact interpretation and application of such values can be controversial at times.  But today I just wanted to explore briefly why “family values” are even important to Christians.

It is not that Christians have a legalistic emphasis on bloodlines or the concept of the family as a fixed unit.  No, that’s not it.  Jesus had a fluid and inclusive vision of family.  Consider Matthew 12:46-50:

 Yet while he spake to the people, lo! his mother and his brethren stood withoutforth, seeking to speak with him.

And a man said to him, Lo! thy mother and thy brethren stand withoutforth, seeking thee.

And he answered to the man, that spake to him, and said, Who is my mother? and who be my brethren?

And he held forth his hand into his disciples, and said, Lo! my mother and my brethren;

for whoever doeth the will of my Father that is in heavens, he is my brother, and sister, and mother.

Consider also John 19:25-27:

But by the cross of Jesus stood His mother, His mother's sister, Mary the [wife] of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene.

So Jesus, seeing His mother there, and the disciple whom He loved standing near, said to His mother, [Dear] woman, See, [here is] your son!

Then He said to the disciple, See, [here is] your mother! And from that hour, the disciple took her into his own [keeping, own home].

Christ taught us to love our neighbor as ourselves.  And in the parable of the Good Samaritan, he explained to us that God has a very expansive definition of the term “neighbor.”  But we humans typically don’t know what it means to love unless it is modeled for us and we experience love firsthand.  For most human beings, we are first introduced to the concept of love within our families. 

No family is perfect.  And even if there is disharmony or dysfunction, we can glean lessons of love by the way our family members try to meet our basic needs and extend compassion to us in acts of tenderness.  When we learn those lessons of love, it then equips us to fulfill the Great Commission of the risen Christ to teach all nations about the ever-lasting, omnipotent love of God.

Recently, I came across some beautiful music that really exemplifies these points.  I wanted to share that music today because it seems so apropos on the day we celebrate Christ’s resurrection.  Death has no power over us, so we’re liberated to do God’s will in sharing his abundant love with all his children.

My family is second to none in its enthusiasm for public libraries.  We go to the library on at least a weekly basis to find new books to devour.  And sometimes we branch out and borrow CDs.  Recently, I found a CD by Ziggy Marley in the children’s section of the library.  I have been aware of Mr. Marley for a long time. 

I was somewhat familiar with his father, Bob Marley.  I enjoy reggae.  And his classic song “One Love” is incredibly beautiful.  I’ve heard it sung in churches.  Indeed, Bob Marley was an adherent of the Rastafari movement, which I understand is fundamentally Christian and is focused on the repatriation of people of African descent to Africa.  Bob Marley was baptized as an adult.  He often spoke and sang with references to biblical concepts. 

Bob Marley was actually a little before my time.  I know of him like I know of Elvis, the Beatles, the Doors and Aretha Franklin.  But his eldest son, Ziggy, is my contemporary. 

When I was an undergraduate, Ziggy Marley was a young adult, just a few months older than me and he had just released Conscious Party.  He released the album with his band, the Melody Makers, which was composed of his siblings.  The album was amazing.  In those days before CDs caught on, I listened to my cassette tape over and over again. The music was beautiful and the lyrics were deep.  The album made a splash in pop music because it seemed incredible that someone so young would have such insightful observations to share with the world. 

A good friend of mine and I went to a concert at our college when Ziggy Marley & and Melody Makers came to town in support of Conscious Party.  It was a great though rather intimate concert in a relatively small venue.  I remember being impressed and moved seeing this young man performing with his family.  As I recall, his mom was even on the stage singing back-up.  A family singing together publicly.  Parents, kids, siblings apparently getting along, and working towards a common purpose.  What a concept. 

That concert was over 20 years ago.  I’ve been a little busy during that time.  I haven’t exactly had my finger on the pulse of pop music.  I have to admit I haven’t really listened to Ziggy Marley’s music much over the years.  But finding his 2009 album Family Time at the library recently was so serendipitous.  It is a great collection of songs.  Our whole family has enjoyed it.

Like me, Ziggy Marley is now middle aged, married and a parent.  Apparently Mr. Marley and his wife, Orly, have six children.  (I love the names they have chosen!) Perhaps not surprising for someone with such a large clan, Mr. Marley is passionate about family.  That passion inspired his 2009 CD.  The whole album is great, but there are two songs in particular I wanted to share with you: “Family Time” and “I Love You Too.”  Though they aren’t explicitly religious in theme, both of these songs embody the idea of the family as the context where we first encounter God’s love to equip us to share that love with others.  Such an apropos message for Easter.

The links below will play videos of those two songs.   Enjoy!

Luke 10:33-35

But a certain Samaritan who was traveling came up to him and, when he saw him, had compassion.  And he came up and bandaged his wounds, pouring on olive oil and wine, and he put him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him.  And on the next day, he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, and said, “Take care of him, and whatever you spend in addition, I will repay to you when I return.”

Matthew 28:19-20

Go then and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,

Teaching them to observe everything that I have commanded you, and behold, I am with you all the days (perpetually, uniformly, and on every occasion), to the [very] close and consummation of the age. Amen (so let it be).

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