Every Normal Family is Dysfunctional in its Own Unique Way: A Christian Perspective

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Reverend Dr. Morar Murray-Hayes

Reverend Dr. Morar Murray-Hayes

The Reverend Dr. Morar Murray-Hayes is the Minister of Maple Grove United Church, and is a member of the Interfaith Councill of Halton. A chatty extrovert with a conversational preaching style, a multi-tasker who is a “multi-worrier” when it comes to caring about people’s problems, and a leader who treasures teaming with the lay people in her church, Morar says that at Maple Grove she has experienced “a deeper level of ministry than I thought possible.” Anyone who has personally received Morar’s deeply compassionate caring and wise counsel will testify to what an inspirational, healing and encouraging ministry it is.

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Families are peculiar entities. With all the forces in the world stacked against them, it’s a miracle even some families accept one another’s foibles, forgive one another’s sins, and stick together through all the disasters of life.
Needless to say, families stand in the need of prayer.

Jesus prays to God on behalf of his followers – and on behalf of those who believe because of the word of the disciples. How incredible is that? Jesus is praying for us hundreds of years before we were born! And what does he pray for?

That all may be one

‘I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one.’

He wants all to be one – as he and God are one – He is sure that when the followers are one with Jesus/God – then the world will believe God sent Jesus.

Jesus is praying for the formation of an organic, complete, total, loyal relationship of the community of his followers with one another, with himself and with God.

This fully devoted relationship is “love.”

That’s what the family of God looks like, and it is a pretty good picture of the kind of family we would all like.

This Oneness, this Unity is not for us to achieve!

It isn’t something we can create. We know it isn’t, because no matter how hard we try, we can’t force love, we can’t control others’ behaviour — perhaps especially members of our family.

As Dietrich Bonhoeffer put it: “Christian unity is not an ideal which we must realize; it is rather a reality created by God in Christ in which we may participate.

If we doubt our own abilities to achieve unity with one another in Christ — and well we should — we can be confident that God will answer Jesus’ prayer. Unity in Christ is a gift flowing freely to and through us out of God’s grace.

This unity is not just a warm fuzzy feeling, though. It may not look like the unity we would like for our families. But we can experience this oneness even as we continue to live in families that are imperfect, eccentric, and messy in the way human relationships are.

The reason for oneness, Jesus prays, is “that the world may believe that you have sent me.”

Unity is shared witness not for our comfort.

Rather it is to make God’s mark on the world.

This oneness is God’s call and prayer for us all to unite in mission – to release those imprisoned by poverty; lack of education; gender inequality; environmental injustice; and lack of adequate health care.

The prayer for Jesus is that all of us may be one just as Jesus and God are one.

Our families will still be messy, and we may never experience the unity we desire, but Jesus prays for a oneness that is bigger than we ask for.

Jesus prays for us still.


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