Sunday, May 8, 2016

Mothers Day and the Fifth Commandment

“Honor your father and your mother….” My pastoral mentor, James Grier, used to remind us that at the heart of the meaning of the Fifth Commandment was the crucial concern of passing on faith and devotion towards God from one generation to another. For the old covenant people of Israel, the father and mother, as signficant 'societal leaders' were to be truly devoted to God themselves, living by His Word and will. And so, for that same religious commitment to be handed down, and indeed, enriched, from one generation to another, it was critical that parents were regarded and responded to with profound respect, as those embodying the ‘fear of the Lord’ themselves (along with the rest of the 'elders' in the community).

Now, in the new covenant situation, the family is still crucial, but there is, in the New Testament, the realization that devotion to God in Christ transcends even devotion to parents and family members (e.g., Matt. 10:34-37). And so we read the account of what must have seemed like a fairly shocking reply from Jesus in that time and culture: “While Jesus was still talking to the crowd, his mother and brothers stood outside, wanting to speak to him. Someone told him, “Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to you.” He replied to him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” Pointing to his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.” (Matt. 12:45-50)

And so on a day like today we remember that what matters most of all is love and devotion towards God -- and that parents and pastors, children and church members, all work together to embrace and enrich the heritage of faith and faithfulness passed down from one generation to the next, understanding that the family ties that matter the most are the ones that bind us together in our love and devotion to Christ.

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