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May 6, 2021

‘All in the Family’: Lewis Preaching Series will be Feb. 9-10 at First Presbyterian

By the Rev. Joshua Musser Gritter
For the Salisbury Post

On summer vacations, I learn about life’s lessons as I watch Disney movies with my five nieces and nephews.

I suppose Jesus did say, “If you want to inherit the kingdom of God, become like a child.” Though, I’m not sure what he would’ve thought of the theology of Walt Disney. Nonetheless, on our last family vacation, a line from one such Disney movie, “Lilo and Stitch,” struck me.

Lilo, a young Hawaiian girl who has adopted an extraterrestrial, “Stitch,” as her pet, says toward the end of the movie, “This is my family. I found it all on my own. It’s little, and broken, but still good. Yeah. Still good.”

No matter how divided our politics, no matter how diverse our backgrounds, one thread woven through the fabric of all human stories is family.

“Family,” of course, is a loaded word. For some the word bubbles up to the surface memories of joy, connection and belonging. For others, family conjures images of conflict and estrangement. For most of us, it’s a combination of both.

Two and a half millennia prior to Lilo’s insight, the writers of the first book of the Bible, Genesis, told the story of the human family.

In recent centuries Genesis has been popularized for its role as the battlefield on which the war of science and religion has raged, but that debate has ignored what is perhaps Genesis’ most significant legacy: Genesis is a theological exploration of how to make meaning out of the mess that is family life.

Cain kills his brother out of jealousy, Jacob steals his brother’s inheritance, Sarai and Abraham suffer infertility, blended families experience inner-conflict and strife, and Joseph’s brothers sell him into slavery — to name a few plot points.

One Jewish scholar even remarks that the literary structure of Genesis moves from “Fratricide to Forgiveness.” What begins as familial destruction ends in familial embrace and reconciliation.

As strange and archaic as this ancient story feels to us, the God of Genesis might by the end be led to say, “This is my family. I found it all on my own. It’s little, and broken, but still good. Yeah. Still good.”

What in the world do family, Genesis, and Lilo and Stitch have to do with First Presbyterian Church?

Come to our annual “Lewis Preaching Series” the weekend of Feb. 9-10 and find out!

Each year, we bring to our community a pastor and scholar who is gifted in the art of speech. This year we warmly welcome Rev. Dr. Joe Clifford.

Joe is a hiker, a golfer, a pastor, a father, a husband and a deep thinker when it comes to the connection between family and faith. So, whether your family is breaking at the seams or coming together smoothly, or somewhere in between, you’re invited to explore how God invites us to emerge from these relationships as healthy, whole human beings.

Come to First Presbyterian on Feb. 9-10, and you might even find yourself saying, “This is my family. I found it all on my own. It’s little, and broken, but still good. Yeah. Still good.”

Here’s the schedule of events, all to be held at First Presbyterian Church, 308 W. Fisher St.:

Saturday, Feb. 9:

• noon, lunch event, Lewis Hall — “Biblical Family Values.” A free meal will be catered by Mykonos. The parking lot can be accessed from Innes and South Jackson streets. The doors to Lewis Hall will be marked.

Sunday, Feb. 10:

• 9 a.m., breakfast and Sunday School, Lewis Hall — “How Families Work.”

• 11 a.m., unified worship, church sanctuary — “All in Family.”

• noon, church lunch and fellowship, catered by Smoke Pit.

Register for these events by going to https://www.salisburyfirstpres.org/upcoming-events.

Joshua Musser Gritter is co-senior pastor at First Presbyterian Church.

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