In the Bible, the word “family” has a much broader meaning than father, mother and children. The Biblical usage is what we refer to as the extended family. The family may include several hundred people from great-grand-parents to the children and grandchildren of all younger brothers, nieces, nephews and cousins. The fourth commandment reads, “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the Lord your God gives you” (Exodus 20:12).
This is not the nuclear family that our industrial society has created and seeks to move across the country and around the world to accommodate its economic priorities. The Biblical term applies to the extended family that functioned like a “social security” system. Jesus added a new dimension to society when He said, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” May we learn to apply His counsel on a global scale as we make basic needs of food, shelter and clothing available to all the Human Family.
In botany, the term “family” refers to a large group of species and subspecies, related by common characteristics. Here, we examine a member of the Buttercup Family.
You can start looking for hepatica blooms in March, but you can identify the plant much earlier because the leaves are evergreen. During winter the leaves may get brownish spots and sometimes turn rust-colored, but they are easily identified by the three rounded lobes as sketched. Note also that the under-surface of the leaves is purplish. The old leaves will be replaced by new ones, but not before the flowers appear.
This perennial round-lobed hepatica grows on the ground without a central stem. When blooms appear the total height is rarely more than 6 inches.
The blooms are the most unique feature because they are not what they appear to be. First, the 6 to 10 “petals” are sepals, small modified leaves at the rim of the flowers. These sepals form a cup-shaped structure to attract insects to the small flowers. They are colored light pink, pale blue, and occasionally white. On the underside of the bloom are three green hairy bracts.
The flower is very small but the stamens are long, about half the length of the sepals. The pistil is light green and egg-shaped. Hepatica, also called Liverwort, is self-pollenating and is one of the earliest spring blooming wildflowers.
Hepatica has a long history as an herbal treatment for bronchitis, liver, gallbladder and kidney problems. Warning, do not experiment with this plant because uncontrolled dosage can cause symptoms of poisoning. (Sanders)
We have noted that hepatica is in the buttercup family, but far more important is the New Testament teachings of the “Family of God.” May you be guided by God’s Spirit to assemble for worship with the church of your choice tomorrow.