The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


The challenge and promise of a new family tree

I remember the wedding homily well. That, in itself, is somewhat remarkable.

What I remember most is the text—no 1 Corinthians 13 for this couple. They had chosen John 15:1-8—not so much for the “abide in me” challenge and promises but for a new image of the family tree.

This wedding represented more than the joining of this man and woman. It was the joining of their children, too, into one family unit. So the pastor used the image of the tree to talk about this new family. This tree wasn’t one of genealogy documents or family Bibles—this really was going to be more of a vine and branches image. Things would be tangled and messy. At first glance, it would be difficult to see who went where, and with whom. But it would still be a family tree, and this new family was challenged—and made promises—to abide with one another and their God.

What does your family tree look like? Imagine it, sketch it out. Include those people who may not be related to you by marriage or biology. It’s 2006, after all. Our trees really should be tangled and messy if we’re expanding our traditional notions of “family.”

We received a metal family tree as a gift. On it hang tiny ornaments that hold pictures. We dubbed it our “nontraditional family tree” and include on it photos of those in our children’s lives who are important to them: godparents, “aunties” and “uncles,” friends and neighbors. And, oh yes, those who share their name and ancestors. We use it as our prayer tree. It’s one way we continue to abide with one another.

For me, these days ahead marking Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are mixed with sadness. Like many, I’m without either one. But I’m grateful for the image this text offers me too. A tangled, messy, loving family tree.

This week's front page features:

Lutheranism 101: Culture or confession? (Photo at right.)

Write ... and hear this! Members of a writing group want to leave ‘more than a tombstone.’

Living as one human family: Together we can build generous communities.

A ‘long and good’ relationship. ELCA secretary meets with Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch.

Also: LWF membership rose to 66.2 million in 2005.

Also: Theologian James Burtness dies.

Also: Bearing the mark of Christ.

Read these articles at our front page > > >

This week's discussion forum hosts:

Join Annie Lynsen (right), director for grassroots advocacy and communication for the ELCA Washington Office, and Mark Carlson, director of the Lutheran Office of Public Policy-California, to discuss advocacy today through May 16.

(Haven't read the article? Consider checking out "ELCA members, others lobby Congress for host of causes" from our May issue before joining in.)

Join the discussion > > >

This week on our blog:

Andrea Pohlmann writes about the many ways the Internet helps us stay in touch.

Elizabeth Hunter blogs about giving "our selves, our time and our posessions."

Amber Leberman (right) congratulates a young person in her congregation for putting one up on T.S. Eliot.

Kathleen Kastilahn blogs about the ways ELCA Global Mission helps us stay connected to the world.

Daniel J. Lehmann writes about how The Lutheran plans to work with its printer to save on expenses and deliver custom zoned content to readers.

Julie B. Sevig blogs about the May issue's cover saint, Elvina Moen.

Check out our blog (and leave a comment) > > >

Tell us! Reversing greed.

How does your family stay grounded in this crazy consumer culture? For our November cover story, we’d like to know how you reverse greed in your home, especially if you have children. Send your idea (100-200 words), with your name, congregation, city and state, to Elizabeth Hunter or The Lutheran, 8765 W. Higgins Rd., Chicago, IL 60631, by Aug. 1.

Or respond on-line > > >

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