You are Family
by Ryan Klinck
“You are family,” said Jonathan and Betsy to our friend Morris. “If it ever gets too cold outside, you have to come stay at our place. No excuses, alright?”
At the Dietrich Bonhoeffer House (a Missional Wisdom Foundation Epworth House), I am convinced that we, the house residents, live amongst a community of saints. Now to be clear, these are not the canonized saints of the Catholic or Orthodox traditions of the church. But, they are equally odd, mischievous, and holy as any saint I have ever read about. Both often slept outside under the stars. Both are known to create a fair amount of trouble. And both offer profound insights about the character of God and what we are called to do as followers of Christ.
Jonathan, Betsy, and Morris are all saints. Jonathan and Betsy have very little. Both are disabled and rely on their disability income to scrape by for their small, one bedroom apartment. Yet, they offer a witness to what God’s triune, incarnate, love in community looks like. When Jonathan and Betsy say, “Come stay at our place,” they are acting out of God’s abundance, rather than the severe scarcity that so many of us embrace as a daily practice. Morris is an older homeless friend who has been on the street for ten years. When Jonathan and Betsy’s invitation was extended, he was honest about his need, how he had been cold and was growing older. when I saw the three of them together, I learned that Morris had shared all his money to help Jonathan and Betsy pay for their bills.
Over the past few months, the Saints of the Dietrich Bonhoeffer House have been teaching us who live in the house what it means to say, “You are family.” You see, we the house members, often get things backwards. We tend to think that we are the ones ministering to the homeless and homesick. But, the reality is these saints are truly the ones ministering to us. Through their profound vulnerability and honesty, they are tutoring us in our own insecurity and lack of authenticity. Through their legitimately overwhelming concerns and needs, they lead us to acknowledge our limits, that we are are not God, and we cannot fix everything. Through their inspired compassion and hospitality towards each other, they teach us how to notice our narratives of scarcity, confront our cultural norms and repent of our sin.
As the house steward of the house, I am overwhelmingly grateful for our saint’s witness. It has helped the entire community move into a fruitful season where we have truly embraced the transformative character of “We are family.” House members, lead team members, and community members walked with an estranged member of our community over the past several weeks to do the sacred and challenging work of reconciliation. One homeless saint noted during our prayer time that there is no us versus them, but only us. Every , we have broken bread together with our quirky, odd, and holy family, a family none of us ever imagined we would have but feel honored to be a part of together.
So, this advent season, may we be on the lookout for God’s unexpected saints who will arrive at our doors and in our lives, bearing the good news that, “You are family too.”