SPIRITUAL MATTERS: Royal reminder of family values
SO HERE I am with my sister. She's travelled from the UK to spend time with her daughter and her family - and, of course with her brother. And that's really special!
It's worked out very well for us since I'm currently completing a two-week driving job on the Gold Coast, which has given me plenty of opportunity to spend time with family members seldom seen.
It's interesting how our family has managed to spread across the globe from the UK to the USA to Australia. But though separated by huge distance and saddled with the not insignificant cost of travel, we have always managed to maintain, and strengthen, our family relationships.
Perhaps the old saying that "absence makes the heart grow fonder" has some real credibility, but I'm inclined to think it's more the case that we've always had a deep commitment to each other and desire to foster and value our relationships.
This weekend is the BIG one for Royal watchers as Prince Harry and his bride walk the aisle at St George's Chapel in London. As one would expect, there is huge international interest in this wedding which follows a quite intense public focus on the eligible royal bachelor wrapped up in a larrikin prince.
The lead-up to the wedding hasn't been controversy-free though, with the popular press stirring up a frenzy of speculation about Meaghan's family, which is not helpful, and has, at times, been quite unfair.
Notwithstanding the fact that we have just celebrated Mother's Day, it is clear that families today appear to be under much greater pressure from a number of factors and sources. Increased mobility and wider opportunities for specialist education, careers and work has often resulted in greater physical separation.
Then there's the rise of the "Me First" indulgence which effectively takes few prisoners in the pursuit of blinkered personal goals.
Soft parenting is another issue that undermines traditional family dynamics because it's no longer cool to be a parent who sets boundaries or responsible standards. Many modern parents have a strong need to be friends with their children - which can be incompatible with their God-given duty to provide protection, guidance, wise direction and unambiguous discipline for their offspring.
When I consider the attitude of Jesus towards his earthly parents, I see respect and obedience. More than that, I see a man who thought only of his mother's suffering as he hung dying upon that cruel cross. His own intense pain took second place to his concern for his mother as he charged one of his disciples to resolutely care for her.
Prior to this, he prayed to his Heavenly Father, asking if it were possible for him to avoid agony that lay ahead for him. But what we notice most about that is his passionate desire to submit his own will to the wisdom of his father's.
He was determined to be obedient - even to the point of death.
Wow! That must serve to teach us something very important about how we need to manage our own family relationships. It seems to me that unless we backtrack a little and re-discover the principles underlying healthy family relationships, we're destined for a lot more grief and heartache within that most fundamental of all human institutions.