I liked what Karen had to say this morning about the importance of kinship to God. Knowing that we are all connected, that we all belong to each other. It's a good thing for us to keep in mind, I think.
I am the eldest child in my family; I have two younger brothers. They certainly had their moments when we were growing up; I have distinct memories them ganging up on the big sister, going out of their way to drive me crazy. And yes, I probably drove them crazy too. And yet... we always got over ourselves eventually, always got back to a place where we could have fun together. There can be a lot of love and forgiveness in families.
Maybe because I'm the eldest, I totally understand where the prodigal son's older brother is coming from. It is easy for me to take on those attitudes in certain situations - to ask about justice and fairness, to ask, as Karen quoted from a Calvin and Hobbes comic a few weeks ago, why life is never unfair in my favour. When I have enough self-awareness to realize that's what I'm doing, I try to remind myself that, more often than not, I am the younger brother - that I receive more love and forgiveness than I really deserve - and that I need to be willing to extend that to others.
But I think Karen's message today adds something to that. Even when we're having "older brother" moments, there is more than enough love and goodness for all of us. And this is where the notion of kinship comes into it, for me. I certainly have a lot of patience and time for my crazy brothers - they're my family and I love them to bits. So how would my actions and attitudes change if I saw myself as being connected with all those around me? If I approached situations knowing that we all belong to each other, that there is no one who doesn't belong? How much more so would that foster love, justice and equality in my community?