Family according to the Bravermans . . . and maybe the church

For America’s tissue companies, the series finale of Parenthood was a bonanza as millions of fans, myself included, said a tearful good-bye to the Braverman clan. Over the past six years, Zeke, Camille, and their boisterous brood entertained, sometimes annoyed, and regularly endeared themselves to a viewing public hungry for glimpses of family life as we want it to be — what one writer described as “an almost utopian fantasy of a tight-knit family, living close by one another, available for games, meals and babysitting.”

parenthood 3

Contrary to Thomas Wolfe’s gloomy title, Parenthood showed us that you can go home again – without reservation, conditions, or guilt. The thesis of the show from the pilot to the last episode was this: Families will squabble, fall out, and yell (there was lots of that on Parenthood), but at the end of the day, these are the folks who have your back and always will. In the words of Jason Katim, the show’s creator, “No matter what curveballs are thrown at you in life, your family helps you get through it.”

Or so we hope/wish/pray.

The sad reality, however, is that for increasing numbers of Americans, family and home as portrayed in Parenthood is as much a fiction as the Bravermans themselves. A staggering 20 percent of adults in the U.S. live alone and less than 8 percent of people responding to a recent survey have a neighbor to whom they can turn for help in an emergency. It’s no surprise that the National Institutes of Health identifies social isolation and loneliness as health issues of epidemic proportion.

All of which has me thinking about the Church, congregational life, and our talk about being the family of God. Those of us who identify as Christ followers have a story that should be, could be music to lonely ears, but we’re not very good at telling it. If we were out there in the highways and by-ways of life, inviting people into the Good News, people wouldn’t have to look for encouragement, hope, and community in a television show.

As my friend Kristie Rush wrote so beautifully a few weeks back in a blog chronically her journey with cancer:

“In the middle of the morning service, I was reminded that what church is supposed to be is a family.  A family that cares for one another and loves one another and sets aside ‘what we should do’ for ‘what we need to do.’  It made me fall in love with my church all over again.  And it made me wonder if someone today needs to know that church isn’t supposed to be the place that you wear your ‘Sunday Best’ and put on your ‘best face’ and follow a program to know how much longer it will be. A place you just walk in and walk out. I can promise you that Jesus would run far, far away from that definition and beg and plead for us to return to what ‘church’ was in the years while He walked this earth and in the first century following His resurrection.

He would tell us to

Just come.

As you are. As you really are.

Like a little child.

Loving one another.

Walking with one another.

Teaching each other.

Encouraging each other.

Giving to one another.

Laughing and crying with one another.

Praising His name together – whether that’s done standing up or sitting down or lying flat on your back because all your eyes want to do is close.

That’s church.”

And that’s family. For real and forever.


  1. Linda Reimer says:


What's your take on this topic?

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