Parents' Care
Wednesday of Pentecost 17
19 September 2018

There is no greater calling in the world than the calling of a parent. That is why the fourth commandment, "honor your father and your mother," is the pivotal commandment between the first and second tables of the law. The first table of the law has to do with our relationship with God; who He is, the proper use of His name, and the right worship of Him. The second table has to do with the establishment of the relationship among humans. That relationship stands founded upon who God is, and it pivots on the foremost of divinely-given earthly offices, the office of parent. We begin to submit to God when we love, honor, and cherish our parents, submitting to their authority as to God Himself. Our parents are next to God, that is, as Luther says, they are right at the side of God, as little divine "incarnations" in the world.


God uses means to care for us. Our first glimpse of God from the crib is in the face of our parents. Our parents are God's hands in the care of children and the support of family. I recall with fondness my own parents' care for me. I know that they sacrificed themselves completely for me. They gave up much to make sure that my brother and I were taken care of. I look back on my life and only realize now how poor we were when I was a child. At the time, I had no idea because I was so well taken care of. This care was never conditioned on my gratitude. I often complained about the food that was set in front of me and yet the food was still there; I was never hungry. God treats us precisely this way. We have never merited God's gifts to us in the person of God's Son and yet our heavenly Father still gives them all to us by grace. We have often turned up our nose at the Supper that He has set before us, yet He places this life-giving bread on the altar of our churches every Lord's Day. We are never left hungry by our Father. He has given up everything to give us all. Parents reflect who God is by giving up everything to give good gifts to their children. For God's sake, they ought to receive all honor from us.


My parents weren't always right. There were times when my parents disciplined me when I didn't deserve it; very few times. However, when they became aware of this, they would come to me and ask for my forgiveness. I learned absolution and its power in this experience. This humility on the part of my parents did not change the great honor and respect in which I held them and indeed caused it to grow. From these dear Christian parents, I learned too of God's humility, who humbled Himself to death, even the death of the cross (Phil 2:8). What a fine example of God's care my parents provided to me in their humble service.

Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray
Memorial Lutheran Church

   Martin Luther
"To the position of fatherhood and motherhood God has given special distinction above all positions that are beneath it. He does not simply command us to love our parents, but to honor them. Regarding our brothers, sisters, and neighbors in general, He commands nothing more than that we love them (Mt 22:39; 1Jn 3:14). In this way He separates and distinguishes father and mother from all other persons upon earth and places them at His side. For it is a far higher thing to honor someone than to love someone, because honor includes not only love, but also modesty, humility, and submission to a majesty hidden in them. Honor requires not only that parents be addressed kindly and with reverence, but also that, both in the heart and with the body, we demonstrate that we value them very highly, and that, next to God, we regard them as the very highest. For someone we honor from the heart we must also truly regard as high and great."

Martin Luther, Large Catechism,
Malachi 1:6-14

A son honors his father, and a servant his master. If then I am a father, where is my honor? And if I am a master, where is my fear? says the LORD of hosts to you, O priests, who despise my name. But you say, 'How have we despised your name?' By offering polluted food upon my altar. But you say, 'How have we polluted you?' By saying that the LORD's table may be despised. When you offer blind animals in sacrifice, is that not evil? And when you offer those that are lame or sick, is that not evil? Present that to your governor; will he accept you or show you favor? says the LORD of hosts. And now entreat the favor of God, that he may be gracious to us. With such a gift from your hand, will he show favor to any of you? says the LORD of hosts. Oh that there were one among you who would shut the doors, that you might not kindle fire on my altar in vain! I have no pleasure in you, says the LORD of hosts, and I will not accept an offering from your hand. For from the rising of the sun to its setting my name will be great among the nations, and in every place incense will be offered to my name, and a pure offering. For my name will be great among the nations, says the LORD of hosts. But you profane it when you say that the Lord's table is polluted, and its fruit, that is, its food may be despised. But you say, 'What a weariness this is,' and you snort at it, says the LORD of hosts. You bring what has been taken by violence or is lame or sick, and this you bring as your offering! Shall I accept that from your hand? says the LORD. Cursed be the cheat who has a male in his flock, and vows it, and yet sacrifices to the Lord what is blemished. For I am a great King, says the LORD of hosts, and my name will be feared among the nations.
O God our heavenly Father, we thank you for the gift of fatherhood and motherhood as a sign and extension of your fatherly care in the world. Grant that we might love, honor, and cherish our parents, just as we love, honor, and cherish You. Amen.
For Robert Vollman, that he would be strengthened in his body and know the peace that passes all understanding through the merits of Christ, his Savior
For the victims of Hurricane Florence, that God the Lord would see to the needs of the suffering and bereaved
For civic peace and tranquility in the Carolinas and for the safety of police, the National Guard, first responders, rescue workers, and medical professionals
Art: Albrecht DURER, The Adoration of the Trinity (1511)
Memorial Lutheran Church
© Scott Murray 2018
Memorial Lutheran Church, 5800 Westheimer Rd., Houston, TX 77057
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