Reflections: February 3, 2021
Wednesday of Septuagesima
By Jacob Ehrhard
Honor your father and your mother. (Small Catechism: The Fourth Commandment)
In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. It's the first commandment with a promise. Honor your father and your mother. It's also the first commandment that governs our relationship with other people rather than our relationship with God.
Your parents are the first people you meet on this earth. Even before the obstetrician slaps your naked behind in the delivery room, you know your parents. In the womb you hear their voices and feel their touch. You're fed and nourished in an intimate way.
Even after you're born, your parents are about as close to being God for you as it gets. They give you clothing and shoes, food and drink, house and home, and all you have. They richly and daily provide you with all that you need to support your body and life. They stand in God's place.
It might seem odd to think that your parents stand in the place of God. Martin Luther says in his Large Catechism that this is what it means to honor parents--to recognize a "hidden majesty" in them, to see them as masks of God.
This is true even when parents are strange (which, let's be honest, is most of the time) or when they fail. Parents represent God, but they are not God. And so parents deserve our forgiveness as part of the honor we owe them, just as they forgive you when you dishonor them.
This forgiveness flows from the forgiveness of Jesus, which He earned by honoring His heavenly Father even when it meant His own dishonor (John 8:49). We should fear and love God so that we do not despise or anger our parents and other authorities, but honor them, serve and obey them, love and cherish them. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.
"You are to honor and obey Your father, mother, ev'ry day, Serve them each way that comes to hand; You'll then live long in the land." Have mercy, Lord! ("These Are the Holy Ten Commands" LSB 581, st.5)
-Rev. Jacob Ehrhard is the pastor of St. John's Lutheran Church and School in Chicago, IL.
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