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The dishes, garbage, and dirty laundry would pile up for days when Cat and Harlan Barnard's teenage children refused to do their chores. So the Barnards—of Enterprise, Florida—went on strike, moving out of their house and into a domed tent set up in their front driveway. The parents refused to cook, clean, or drive for their children—Benjamin, 17, and Kit, 12—until they shaped up. "We've tried reverse psychology, upside down psychology, spiral psychology, and nothing has motivated them for any length of time," said Cat Barnard, 45, as she sat in a lawn chair at an umbrella-covered table. The strike took Benjamin and Kit by surprise. They came home from school Monday to find their mother outside with handwritten signs that read "Parents on Strike" and "Seeking Cooperation and Respect!"
Cat Barnard, a stay-at-home mom, and her 56-year-old husband, a government social services worker, decided their children needed to learn about empathy and responsibility. The Barnards slept on air mattresses in the tent and barbecued while their children fended for themselves with frozen TV dinners. The parents only went inside to shower and use the bathroom.


Passers-by from this bedroom community between Orlando and Daytona Beach shouted out words of encouragement. One woman driving past the Barnards' house rolled down her car window Wednesday and shouted, "Good for you! You should put the kids outside!"
Cat Barnard said she and her husband would . . .

All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the LORD, and all the families of the nations will bow down before him,
for dominion belongs to the LORD and he rules over the nations.
Psalm 22:27-28 

God sets the lonely in families, he leads forth the prisoners with singing
Psalm 68:6

The dishes, garbage, and dirty laundry would pile up for days when Cat and Harlan Barnard's teenage children refused to do their chores. So the Barnards—of Enterprise, Florida—went on strike, moving out of their house and into a domed tent set up in their front driveway. The parents refused to cook, clean, or drive for their children—Benjamin, 17, and Kit, 12—until they shaped up.
"We've tried reverse psychology, upside down psychology, spiral psychology, and nothing has motivated them for any length of time," said Cat Barnard, 45, as she sat in a lawn chair at an umbrella-covered table.
The strike took Benjamin and Kit by surprise. They came home from school Monday to find their mother outside with handwritten signs that read "Parents on Strike" and "Seeking Cooperation and Respect!"
Cat Barnard, a stay-at-home mom, and her 56-year-old husband, a government social services worker, decided their children needed to learn about empathy and responsibility. The Barnards slept on air mattresses in the tent and barbecued while their children fended for themselves with frozen TV dinners. The parents only went inside to shower and use the bathroom.
Passers-by from this bedroom community between Orlando and Daytona Beach shouted out words of encouragement. One woman driving past the Barnards' house rolled down her car window Wednesday and shouted, "Good for you! You should put the kids outside!"
Cat Barnard said she and her husband would keep up the strike until they saw some changes. "If we have to stick it out here until Christmas, then ho, ho, ho, we're out here," she said.1
 That news article is dated early December 2004. I wonder if the Barnards are back in their home yet.
Families, you gotta love them!

In the early years of Israel, God dealt with the nation by families. When they traveled and when they camped, they did so by family groupings. This is not unusual. Early societies tend to be family groupings and tribal in nature. Scotland was settled in family groupings we know as clans, and each had its tribal area.

When God brought the people into the land they settled in family groupings. Ephraim took the hill country of the northwest, Judah and Benjamin settled in the south, and so on. God dealt with them by families.
In Psalm 22 we read "all the families of the nations will bow down before Him."
Is this simply reflecting their own early history, or does God have an in-built pre-disposition toward families?

I think that its evident enough from Biblical references that families matter to God.
But on the other hand Jesus does not romanticize the notion of family. When his mother and siblings come to take him home he asks the question, "who is family"?  He answers his own question saying that family for him are those who do the will of his heavenly father.

Family is important. It is how God created us, but let us not romanticize family any more than Jesus did.
Maria Brunner doesn't.
What would cause an innocent woman to welcome time behind bars? According to Maria Brunner, all it takes is her "lazy" husband and "demanding" children.

Brunner’s husband is unemployed, so she supports their three young children by cleaning other peoples houses. Even without a job, her husband managed to run up quite a number of unpaid parking tickets. The bill totals nearly $5,000. Mr. Brunner kept the tickets a secret from his wife, but as the owner of the vehicle, she is responsible. Maria cannot pay the fine, and unless her husband can come up with the money, she will spend three months behind bars in her town of Poing, Germany.

Brunner’s husband is unemployed, so she supports their three young children by cleaning other peoples houses. Even without a job, her husband managed to run up quite a number of unpaid parking tickets. The bill totals nearly $5,000. Mr. Brunner kept the tickets a secret from his wife, but as the owner of the vehicle, she is responsible. Maria cannot pay the fine, and unless her husband can come up with the money, she will spend three months behind bars in her town of Poing, Germany. Maria’s reaction? "I've had enough of scraping a living for the family…. As long as I get food and a hot shower every day, I don't mind being sent to jail. I can finally get some rest and relaxation." Police reported that when they went to arrest Maria, "she seemed really happy to see us…and repeatedly thanked us for arresting her." While most people taken into custody hide their heads in shame, Maria "smiled and waved as she was driven off to jail."2

We sometimes tend to think that our age is especially hard on families compared with some "golden era" of families.
We know that families had their own challenges historically. The industrial revolution would have caused the demise of the family if possible. Families were uprooted from their agricultural setting and settled in mill towns like Birmingham and Leeds in England. Alcohol abuse was rampant, children had to work in the mills and people dropped like flies from poor diet, fatigue and disease.

Middle ages Europe was the birth of our "Fairy Tales". They were compiled by the brothers Grimm and many were grim.
Women routinely died in child birth, hence the numerous fairy tales featuring......the wicked stepmother.
Being a step-mother was no picnic as you can imagine, especially if your darling stepchild really was destined to be a princess, unlike the rest of the commoners in the family. And how would you like to grow up in Hanzel and Gretel's family?

In many ways families have never had it so good. In other ways its the same old challenges to families in modern guise.

And another feature to our lives is that not everyone has a family.
Many families are headed by a single parent and many do not choose to marry.
Historically, this is not new. I've read that in the Victorian era, singlehood was the state of a much higher proportion than today.

So is this Biblical emphasis on families just a background upon which God writes a new definition of family?
I don' think so, any more than the New Testament's high view of the church is just a counter-point to our experienced reality.
We do find the Spirit in the ordinary group of folks like us even though we may not seem to have the larger than life characteristics of the churches of Acts.

The same is true with family.
We are born into family, however that is configured.
Extended family groupings can be a tremendous resource. I know that grandparents are.
The extended family in a rural setting or a big city provides an emotional safety valve for beleaguered parents as well as physical resources. God gave us one another to help carry one anothers burdens.

In the beginning when God had created the man he said, "it is not good for him to be alone." Left to his own devices he will never ask for directions so we better give him someone who reads the instructions first.
And so it goes.

Families come in all shapes and sizes. We know that.
When families have lots of cousins, uncles and grandparents within handy reach, life can be a lot richer.
On the other hand, some people move across the continent because a big extended family can drive you nuts too.
Still, it is not good for us to be alone.
Isolation from others can make us vulnerable.

And so we read Psalm 68:6. "God sets the lonely in families."
That doesn't necessarily mean biological family.
Jesus said that biology will take you only so far.
One of the purposes for the church is to be like a family to one another.
We are not a family in the real sense. You can move across the country from your family, but they are still there in your head and you KNOW they are out there waiting....
But you can leave a church and go to a new one if you don't like the way we sing our hymns.

But God has given us to one another.
What to do about that on this Christian Family sunday?
Enjoy the people around you. Is there someone here you don't know particularly well?
Invite them out to lunch some week.
Bring them home and get to know them.
God has given us to one another. We have the usual assortment of folks. We have some stepmothers; no wicked ones though.
We have some Dutch uncles, some maiden aunts. We have big brothers and little sisters. We have wise grandparents and we have one or two princesses.

God says he places the lonely in families. He gave us to you and you to us.
For that I am glad.
God's family plan is you and me.

Preached  May 14, 2006
Dr. Harold McNabb
West Shore Presbyterian Church
Victoria, British Columbia

We sometimes tend to think that our age is especially hard on families compared with some "golden era" of families.
We know that families had their own challenges historically. The industrial revolution would have caused the demise of the family if possible. Families were uprooted from their agricultural setting and settled in mill towns like Birmingham and Leeds in England. Alcohol abuse was rampant, children had to work in the mills and people dropped like flies from poor diet, fatigue and disease.

Middle ages Europe was the birth of our "Fairy Tales". They were compiled by the brothers Grimm and many were grim.
Women routinely died in child birth, hence the numerous fairy tales featuring......the wicked stepmother.
Being a step-mother was no picnic as you can imagine, especially if your darling stepchild really was destined to be a princess, unlike the rest of the commoners in the family. And how would you like to grow up in Hanzel and Gretel's family?

In many ways families have never had it so good. In other ways its the same old challenges to families in modern guise.

And another feature to our lives is that not everyone has a family.
Many families are headed by a single parent and many do not choose to marry.
Historically, this is not new. I've read that in the Victorian era, singlehood was the state of a much higher proportion than today.

So is this Biblical emphasis on families just a background upon which God writes a new definition of family?
I don' think so, any more than the New Testament's high view of the church is just a counter-point to our experienced reality.
We do find the Spirit in the ordinary group of folks like us even though we may not seem to have the larger than life characteristics of the churches of Acts.

The same is true with family.
We are born into family, however that is configured.
Extended family groupings can be a tremendous resource. I know that grandparents are.
The extended family in a rural setting or a big city provides an emotional safety valve for beleaguered parents as well as physical resources. God gave us one another to help carry one anothers burdens.

In the beginning when God had created the man he said, "it is not good for him to be alone." Left to his own devices he will never ask for directions so we better give him someone who reads the instructions first.
And so it goes.

Families come in all shapes and sizes. We know that.
When families have lots of cousins, uncles and grandparents within handy reach, life can be a lot richer.
On the other hand, some people move across the continent because a big extended family can drive you nuts too.
Still, it is not good for us to be alone.
Isolation from others can make us vulnerable.

And so we read Psalm 68:6. "God sets the lonely in families."
That doesn't necessarily mean biological family.
Jesus said that biology will take you only so far.
One of the purposes for the church is to be like a family to one another.
We are not a family in the real sense. You can move across the country from your family, but they are still there in your head and you KNOW they are out there waiting....
But you can leave a church and go to a new one if you don't like the way we sing our hymns.

But God has given us to one another.
What to do about that on this Christian Family sunday?
Enjoy the people around you. Is there someone here you don't know particularly well?
Invite them out to lunch some week.
Bring them home and get to know them.
God has given us to one another. We have the usual assortment of folks. We have some stepmothers; no wicked ones though.
We have some Dutch uncles, some maiden aunts. We have big brothers and little sisters. We have wise grandparents and we have one or two princesses.

God says he places the lonely in families. He gave us to you and you to us.
For that I am glad.
God's family plan is you and me.

Preached  May 14, 2006
Dr. Harold McNabb
West Shore Presbyterian Church
Victoria, British Columbia

Notes
1.FoxNews.com December 9, 2004
2.John Beukema, Western Springs, Illinois; sources: "Family of the Week," www.timesonline.co.uk (5-15-05); "I’m Ready; Let’s Go,"

Online Resources Consulted
http://www.preachingtoday.com/
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