Let us pray (in silence) [as the family of God]
Almighty and everloving God,
your Son Jesus Christ shared at Nazareth
the life of an earthly home;
grant that we and all your children
may live together in peace and joy,
until we come to that eternal home
which you have prepared for those that love you;
through Jesus Christ our Lord
who is alive with with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God now and for ever.
NZPB p. 633c
A child today can have five parents: biological father, nurturing father, biological mother (egg), carrying mother (womb), nurturing mother. That is before merged families. This will soon become more complex - last I checked we needed a womb for seventeen weeks - that window is shrinking. How soon before a womb is not essential? IVF is common. The egg "donation" trade will continue to expand. Genetic modification is upon us. The realities behind the movies "Gattaca" and "The Island" are around the corner. We can list off the statistics of divorce, and family types, and some yearn for a less muddled world. Not the world of the Bible with its condoning of polygamy and acceptance of concubinage, and its stories of incest, etc.
The other collect option on this page, written prior to 1984, was foreseeing this:
God, the mother and father of us all,
you have created families and love of every kind.
Give us courage to listen to each other and to learn,...
Churches and individuals that attempt to live up to the black and white of today's Gospel (Mark 10:2-16) quickly end up in the grey of real life relationships. Roman Catholics don't divorce, they annul the marriage so that they never were married (without affecting the "legitimate" status of any children!), priests get laicised in order to marry; Orthodox give you three chances at marriage; in the Church of England, the couple marries each other and then the church gives its blessing to the couple - in the case of Prince Charles and Camilla they couldn't marry a divorcee, so they married each other after which, ummmm.... the church gave them a blessing! (Are they married now in the eyes of the church? In the eyes of the RC church?) A conservative evangelical priest publicly enthused about a new parishioner household where the couple lived together "without benefit of clergy" who would now in time be married by him - but even he balked at the suggestion they needed to separate until the wedding. Many/most people don't live in black and white - we live in grey.
"you have created families and love of every kind.
Give us courage to listen to each other and to learn."
Currently, we need the courage to listen to each other and to learn in relation to homosexuality. Will those against homosexual activity in every situation pick up the stronger biblical injunctions against divorce and seek a reversal of church practice? And then in relation to women's "headship"? Where will the more liberal direction end? Is divorce being normalised? I remember reading an article about divorcing for fun...
The preamble of the collect comes from a Prayer for the Home in the 1928 CofE Prayer Book Baptism service. The rest appears similar to the RC collect for the RC Sunday in the Octave of Christmas (The Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph):
help us to live as the holy family,
united in respect and love.
Bring us to the joy and peace of your eternal home.
These different prayers highlight what may become marks of being God's family as home, workplace, school, parish, community, diocese, denomination,...: peace, joy, listening to each other, learning together, respect, love,...
A film to watch and reflect on in relation to finding redemption in the midst of ordinary relationships: "As it is in heaven".