Families are complicated. I spent Tuesday with my brother celebrating his 70th birthday. We had lunch at a Chinese restaurant, reminiscing over the good times and bad times of growing up in the Rawlings family. I discovered some new things and I shared a couple of never-before-told stories.  There was laughter and sadness over blessings and loss.  This is not an uncommon event – there are times when we all have a chance to remember the connections of families and this is good for us, even though it’s not always pleasant.  Meeting with family members can be surprising, as I found with my brother. I discovered that I have a second cousin that we were unaware we had. My brother met him at a friend’s house and in conversation he realised that this stranger had just become a relative. This happens more often than we are aware, especially when we acknowledge that we’re all connected through our common humanity, each bearing the image of God. We are all part of God’s family; connected and influential upon each other’s lives. It was always God’s intention for humanity to engage with each other, as we find right through the stories of people in the Holy Scriptures. Again and again, there are instructions to offer mercy and grace to everyone; strangers, travellers, neighbours and relatives. We are encouraged to be a society based on a commonwealth of connections through God’s love to bless, share and enable all to experience peace, hope and opportunities for life. Unfortunately, the common reality is not the ideal. We, therefore, as part of God’s family, seek to do whatever we can to foster an open community; seeking to enable all to live in peace. May we be surprised with the connections we share with others, and seek to offer grace to all our brothers and sisters. Rev Malcolm Rawlings