"For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” Matthew 18.20
This weekend is witnessing a double celebration: yesterday's wedding at the Quirang and today's Communion gatherings in Kyleakin (English) and Broadford (Gaelic). Both are family occasions: the former involves a human, biological family while, in the latter, apparently random families, individuals, locals and visitors are alike embraced into the family of faith.
When we gather for Holy Communion, it is in the awareness that we assemble as God's own guests, around the table he has prepared through the sacrificial death of Jesus and in the joyful awareness of his resurrection to eternal life. But, in the preamble to Christian wedding services, we are reminded that the same Jesus was the guest at a wedding in Cana of Galilee. The implication here is that, if we wish the same privilege of Jesus' presence in our own experience, we must invite him. Getting married in a Christian environment is so important because Jesus gets an invitation.
They say we pick our friends but we must simply accept our families. This perhaps explains why there are so many broken families. Yet it also hints at an opportunity for grace. The fact that God invites us into the family of faith, even though we do not deserve it, challenges our behaviour towards members of our human families. Indeed it challenges our behaviour towards our fellow worshippers, who may be accepted by God yet not so readily by us!
In his Sermon on the Mount Jesus refers our religious practices, such as presenting our offerings to God, and he insists that these must be conducted with a clean slate. So, if we are aware of friction between ourselves and a fellow believer, Jesus admonishes: "... leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift." Healthy families are healing families - but who will take the initiative when rifts occur?