The Words of the Cooper Family
When I met the Unification movement the teaching about family really caught my heart. My family has always been at the center of my life, yet I could see how much it fell short of what it might be if only…, and then there was always within me a dream of being part of a bigger family. It was not a dream I had articulated and consciously thought out, but it was there in my perceptions and feelings.
In our Lancaster Gate community church we have started to study and teach through a series. It means we keep the same topic for a few weeks in a row. The advantage this gives us is that it allows us to go deeper. It brings stability to our journey that we take together as a spiritual community.
In October we were looking at how God uses different relationships in the family to express his love for us, and how much of the time we miss this reality and miss what is an amazing opportunity to discover just how much family really does matter to God and to our lives.
The first week we looked at how God regards the family as so fundamental to His purpose that the first place he puts us when we are born is in a family.
The environment God wants to influence the most is your family. Cuz that is the place where you are molded, where most of the behavioral patterns for all our future relationships in life are largely determined. God is very interested in that fact and wants to help you to create patterns that work and behaviors that reflect His behavior.
As human history shows (and as we all know personally) bad habits, dysfunctional patterns, are hard to shift.
As we start out in life God hopes to relate to us through our parents. That is why the role of parents and the dignity with which they are treated in our community and society is so critical. When we are small our parents define our world.
In our second week we looked at marriage and we asked: "what does your spouse owe you?"
We all go into marriage with a bunch of different desires, hopes and dreams. But at some point many of these very healthy and legitimate desires turn into expectations, and that often kills any chance of real romance.
The conclusion we came to was that our marriage was not our idea first off. God loves you so much that He puts an actual person into your life who can emotionally, physically, and in every conceivable way be an expression of how intimately He cares for you. Do you look at your marriage like that?
Acts of service and gratitude are signs of an unconditional marriage. And that list of what my spouse owes me -- I need to throw it away; she owes me nothing.
The readings were from: Ephesians 5 and from 1 Peter 5:5: "All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble."
In part 3 we reflected that to be a brother or sister is really about fine tuning your heart to love more. And when you become a person of faith your view on family changes. You become part of a spiritual family, and for me as an Unificationist that meant suddenly everyone became relevant whether they were far or near. Suddenly everyone matters. And I guess that is why living with faith is not an easy option.
We looked at 3 verses: 1 John 4:20-21 , Matthew 22:37-40 ,
And finally at our interfaith worship meeting, that we have on the last Sunday evening of each month we had a profound message from a Muslim friend of mine, who is a chaplain at Ford Prison.