Megann Marcellino, Curt Landry’s daughter, shares her story of faith, family culture, and the One New Man journey…
At the beginning of my family’s faith journey, we identified as Christians, we helped Israel, we had late night prayer meetings (as a child these were great opportunities to sneak into the kitchen to grab a tasty snack). Our family culture was the typical evangelical family.
As a child, I must confess, the “things we did” did not do much to impact my identity or our family culture at that time. It was more about what we did rather than who we were.
The Bible told us to bless Israel, so we did. The Bible told us to pray for Jerusalem’s peace, so we did.
Obedience in the Family Culture is Great… But There is More
Obedience is great, and it comes with blessings. But now that I am a mom with a family of my own, I realize that the family culture in the home holds strong long after the obedient act is completed.
A strong family culture, rooted in covenant relationship happens when we connect the heart, habits, patterns, and traditions to the obedience—when we make the things we do part of who we are and what we love.
This becomes the fabric and the structure of the family. This becomes our foundation. This creates a family culture rooted in faith.
Something Was Calling Us Home
At some point in my childhood, my parents realized that there was something more than just praying for and financially sowing into Israel.
Something was calling us home.
There was heritage. There was a table. There was an invitation. It became more than simply a Genesis 12:3 mandate of blessing Israel and the Jewish people. My parents’ roots and their DNA cried out from within them.
I am grateful that my parents followed that cry versus suppressing it. It was this cry that birthed the culture of our home. A cry that said, “There is something more.”
We Searched for Connection
The Lord put the cry in our hearts, and my parents spent a few years searching for the spiritual connection that aligned with the cry.
For a time, we connected with a Messianic organization. Messianics are a group of Jewish people (and non-Jews) who have chosen to primarily live and identify as Jews who believe in Jesus as Messiah. If you do an online search of “what are messianics,” one of the first articles that comes up states that they are “a group that tries to straddle the line between Judaism and Christianity.”
This was a short lived season. The cultural expression wasn’t exactly a fit for us.
It was, however, something the Lord used to jumpstart a journey of recognizing the Jewish culture of our faith, and for that I am forever grateful.
There is a lot of orthopraxy (correct actions and practices) in Messianic Judaism. This can cause some confusion.
For example, we found families who were just like ours, having very little understanding at the time of keeping Jewish cultural rules, yet embracing the outward expression. The men might start wearing tzitzit and the women might start covering their heads.
Now, there is nothing wrong with those things, but it was interesting to me when I saw Gentile families suddenly shift to an outward expression of religious Jews.
As a result, I have a lot of compassion for people who wonder why we now blow shofars, wear tallits, hang mezuzahs, and light menorahs. When they look at us strangely, I get it. I was there too. I asked myself, “What does this have to do with me?”
We Went through It All When Creating a Family Culture Rooted in Faith
During that season we went through it all. I remember when my family stopped celebrating Easter and for a short season, we even cut Christmas. It was all strange and painful, but we eventually found our balance as a family. We found our center.
We found the connection the Lord had us searching for.
Finding Our Balance… The Shift in Our Family Culture to the One New Man
At first, I did not identify with many of the Jewish practices because I wasn’t raised that way. My grandparents were from the south and we ate biscuits and sausage gravy. They didn’t even go to church on Sunday, much less relate to a Jewish expression of our faith.
I was in my early teenage years when my parents started making this family culture change. Yes, teenage years… the most self-conscious season of life. I just wanted to be normal.
Feasts? Shabbat? What is happening?!
I say this to those of you who are in the middle, trying to find your own balance, your own center—I get it.
The message of the One New Man—a message that promotes a connection with the roots of our faith and the heritage of our Father—was the answer for us.
But I think every family goes through the family culture swing and asks, “What does this look like for us?” And that’s okay. I’ve been there. We’ve been there.
I openly confess that Paul and I are still there as parents. We are trying to establish a family culture in our home and raise our children in a way that honestly, we weren’t raised in until we were both older, even though we are both Jewish Believers.
We are trying to find our balance just like so many others.
So, what does that look like?
Creating a One New Man Family Culture
The words of Deuteronomy 11:18-20 keep resonating in my heart in this season:
“‘Therefore you shall lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall teach them to your children, speaking of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. And you shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates,’”
These instructions lead to great rewards in the verses that follow, not only for us, but also for our children.
Lay-up God’s words and teach them, speak of them, live them as a family.
What inspired me to sit down and write out this testimony? It was watching Ariebella embrace the family culture of our home over the past year.
- We got to the heart of Shabbat.
For years, Shabbat and the feasts have been consumed with commitments and activities. We showed up. We were obedient. We were present. But since we became parents, we wanted our children to embrace the invitation and not the obligation.
When Joseph was born, we stayed home for months on Shabbat.
- We lit candles and taught our daughter the blessings.
We began lighting candles as a family and not just as a congregation. We taught Ariebella the blessing in Hebrew and in English. We taught her how to sit and listen to the Word. We sang “Shabbat Shalom.”
We blew the shofar. We had a special meal. We made challah. We had pancakes and cartoons on Saturday morning. We had a family day.
And you know what? She loves Shabbat now. She always asks, “When is Shabbat? When is this time we set aside as a family?”
A Wake Up Call for Our Family Culture
Ariebella’s response to bringing Shabbat home was such a wakeup call for us parents.
We realized that we had been honoring Shabbat with her for 4 years but it wasn’t until we “brought it home” and “changed our family culture” that she got it at a 4-year-old level.
And it is this culture, not religious obligation, that will stick with her when she grows up. This culture impacts her identity and who we are as a family.
When we began to demonstrate Shabbat in our home, we really began to honor and keep it as a family unit.
“And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.”—Genesis 2:2-3
The Bible tells us that Shabbat has been set aside and sanctified. That it is a blessed day that we are to call a delight. It is a day where God rested, and we should too (see Isaiah 58:13).
When we began establishing this as a lifestyle and part of our family culture, our 4-year-old embraced it. She embraced the invitation with joy and delight. She wanted to come to the Father’s table.
Isn’t that what we want as parents?
We want our children’s desire to be for the Lord and the things of the Lord. This desire starts with us. It starts in our homes. It starts with us setting a pattern to follow that looks different from the world.
One of the things that I value the most about my parents is the fact that they set our family on a course where the end target never changed and they taught us that it takes faith and discipline to get there…
We are to seek God’s face first and foremost.
We are to long for the Father’s table and to have a relationship with Him.
We are to honor what God honors, and that includes Israel and the roots of our faith.
This is what my parents have instilled within me and what I hope we instill within our children.
I pray my story blesses and encourages you today. Let us be an empowered generation that desires to leave a legacy of seeking the Father by creating a family culture that stands on solid ground.