This picture is from the Jesus Mafa interpretation of biblical stories (Jesus inviting children to come to him). We have a series of these prints hanging in our church hallway.
This week, in worship, the Lectionary gives us the story of Hagar and Ishmael in Genesis 21:9-21. Through this story we reflect on being family. On this Juneteenth, we “hear the voices of people long silenced”, as our Brief Statement of Faith, PC(USA) urges.
Dolores Williams: “To recognize Hagar’s and Ishmael’s frightening and insecure predicament at this point, we must understand something about the composition and function of the family among these ancient people. … Hagar and Ishmael, expelled from the family, or “house,” of Abraham and Sarah were not only without economic resources, they were without protection in a nomadic culture where men ruled the families, tribes, and clans. As mother and child wander off into the desert of Beersheba, we cannot help but wonder how their survival will be secured. … This Hagar symbolism provides a historically realistic model of non-middle-class black womanhood. Contrary to Anglo-American ideals about “true womanhood,” this African-American notion affirms such qualities as defiance; risk-taking; independence; endurance when endurance gives no promise; the stamina to hold things together for the family (even without the help of a mate); the ability, in poverty, to make a way out of no way; the courage to initiate political action in the public arena; and a close personal relation with God.” (From Sisters in the Wilderness)
Howard Thurman: “The human spirit cannot abide the enforced loneliness of isolation. We literally feed on each other; where this nourishment is not available, the human spirit and the human body—both—sicken and die. It is not an overstatement that the purpose of all of the arrangements and conventions that make up the formal and informal agreements under which we live in society is to nourish one another with one another. … Their seems to be a built-in resistance in all human beings against the threat of isolation. It is a major safeguard against the disintegration of the self, for we cannot abide being cut off. And it is in the primary experience of family that the stage is set for the constant renewing and sustaining of the private life of the individual. … For in such a setting the individual not only has an awareness of being cared for, but also the way is opened to emerge as a person in an enlarged relationship of persons, the family.” (From The Search for Common Ground)
Grace and Peace,