1. As it is, when I’m preparing and writing a sermon I like to create a thematic playlist that matches mood, content, and any pop-culture references I’m guaranteed to make. Look out for songs about being a parent, being a child, the relationship between the two. But, also look for songs about or by famous families and tunes about siblings. It’s a pretty chill playlist. Enjoy and remember when I link to Spotify that if you enjoy the songs you should buy them, preferrably from the artists themselves.
2. Netflix and chill? Husbands, wives! People in families of all types! If you’re looking for a cathartic night in head over to Netflix and binge on these shows:
- Parenthood: There are so many incredible moments in this show, and maybe because I’m a basic white gurl (love me some pumpkin spice), but for six seasons I felt compelled the day after a new episode aired to post which incredible moment made me man-cry on Facebook. And Adam Braverman is my spirit animal.
(Even with the obnoxious ET voiceover that video made me misty.)
- Friday Night Lights: This is an earlier show by the same showrunner as “Parenthood” and it’s just as good. As a person who has zero frame of reference for Sport the football in the show wasn’t too big of a hurdle to get over. Because, despite my wife’s protests, the show is not really about football – that’s just window dressing. It’s really about this incredibly authentic family and the marriage between Coach Taylor and his wife, Tami.
- Arrested Development: As the lead character says, “The most important thing is family.”
3. I made mention that the Book of Ruth is a sort-of Jewish Cinderella story. If you’ll let me put my book nerd hat on for a moment I’d like to talk about that. If you pay close attention to the movies and books you read you’ll start to notice that there’s only like five original stories, everything else is a rift on that. The “persecuted heroine who moves from obscurity to prominence” motif of Cinderella shows up in all sorts of cultures. The “Cinderella” motif likely originated in classical Greek literature, penned by Strabo, it is the story of a Greek slave girl, Rhodopis “Rosy-Eyes”:
They tell the fabulous story that, when she was bathing, an eagle snatched one of her sandals from her maid and carried it to Memphis; and while the king was administering justice in the open air, the eagle, when it arrived above his head, flung the sandal into his lap; and the king, stirred both by the beautiful shape of the sandal and by the strangeness of the occurrence, sent men in all directions into the country in quest of the woman who wore the sandal; and when she was found in the city of Naucratis, she was brought up to Memphis, became the wife of the king … Strabo: “The Geography”, book 17, 33
Other “Cinderalla” stories from around the world include Ye Xian from China around the year 860 CE; Bawang Merah Bawang Putih an Indonesian and Malaysian story; the Vietnamese Story of Tam and Cam; and several versions can be found in One Thousand and One Nights; and of course the Book of Ruth.
4. The chief verse of the “Better Sundays Make Better Families” sermon was probably:
Thus there were fourteen generations in all from Abraham to David, fourteen from David to the exile to Babylon, and fourteen from the exile to the Messiah. Matthew 1:17 NIV
Again, it’s as if Matthew is saying “How do you like ‘dem apples?” The promised deliverer doesn’t come through success and good behavior but rather through the same mess and muck that we all find ourselves in. Jesus, our high priest, the Messiah, is able to empathize with us and deliver us from our mess. It’s easy to get lost in the weeds when reading genealogies but Jesus’ is like a primer on the key families of Israel’s history and loaded with fascinating family stories. The following video is a great explanation of why Matthew 1:17 is such an exclamation point on a fascinating list of losers and misfits:
Check out The Bible Project for more incredible videos and to support the good work of the Lord they’re doing.
5. A friend grieving the loss of a family member once read this poem to me and some friends. It is lovely and heartwrenching and I thought I’d share it:
Take a glass of water
Pour it in the street
After awhile…it will
come back to you
from the sky
………….It may be many
………April will come
that one November
with the one
…………looking for you
And even if it doesn’t…even
if it never never comes
all those hours
…………….with your thirst
licking the fire blue
…………..will leave your
hard brown face
shining in whatever
rain there is
6. Probably the goofiest page on Facebook that just makes me so happy is Eh Bee. These quick family videos are weird and hillarious.
7. I was kind of hard on King David yesterday, using some strong language like “creep”, “dirtbag”, “coward”. I saw some eyebrows raised but I was just callsin’ ’em as I sees ’em. The guy did some jacked up stuff. There’s a painting by Jan Steen caleld “Bathsheba Receiving David’s Letter” where Bathseba is looking directly into the eyes of whomever looks at the painting, not in a seductive way but rather in a way that suggest culpability. Her eyes suggest that David’s sin is the same sin that ensnares us all, a violent self-centeredness.
8. In between binging watching “Parenthood”, “Friday Night Lights”, and “Arrested Development” check out some of my personal favorite movies about families. And a bonus, each illustrates the messiness of family well:
- The Fantastic Mr. Fox
- Away We Go
- Big Fish
9. One of the steps I mentioned to having better families was “exploring God together.” Here’re an article with reasons why to worship with your family, “11 Reasons to Worship with Your Family.” A follow up article by the same author, “The What, When, and How of Family Worship.”
The Welty’s have a few ways that we worship intentionality and unintenionally. First, every night when we put Atticus down to sleep we take a few minutes to pray with him. Always thanking God for Atticus’ family (grandparents, aunts and uncles), for an event in the day (like eating In N Out), and “most of all, thank You for Your son, Jesus. In his name we pray, amen!” And we clap everytime we pray amen. We clap at least 12 times.
Alyssa prays with Atticus during the day whenever he’s fussy and it seems to calm him down, and he really likes to say “Amen!” and clap.
We also have a copy of “The Jesus Storybook Bible” that Atticus is too small for. He’s not ready for the stories but he likes the pictures and I can tell him the stories in my own words as quickly as possible.
Unintentionally, Alyssa and I have lots of conversations that spring up from whatever we’re reading in scripture, church, or whatever one of us happens to be thinking about at the time. She also helps me write all my sermons and I like to practice the each week’s worship set with Alyssa and Atticus around. It’s not great practice time but it is nice to take a break from binge watching “Parenthood.”
10. If you’re in Southern California and you want to have some family photos there’s no better photographer than Sam Jeet. Sam has photographed our wedding, Atticus’ birth photos, and his one year photos, I could not recommend her enough. Go to her website to see some beautiful photos and to book a session with her: samanthajeet.com