Thursday, November 1, 2012

Raising Families.

One of our members at Redeemer is a sports writer for the Orange County Register. I always welcome and highly regard his writing expertise. "Write what you know about," he says. There's wisdom in those words. And right now, this is what I know: It's true that parents raise their children, but it is equally true (and ought not be forgotten) that children also raise their parents. This is the wonder of parenthood. As Christ serves the child through their parents, the child trains their parents in the vocation Christ has called them into.

When the child is conceived, grows in the womb and is born the parents marvel at the miracle of life; the epicenter of life shifts away from the self to the child. Parenting is always lived extra nos - both for the life of the child, their needs of body and soul - and for the parents needs of body and soul. Christ is the giver of both.

While the child is learning the daily routine - eating, napping, playing, bath, bottle, bed - the parents are learning that their time is no longer their own. While the child is adjusting to sleeping through the night the parents adjust to life with less sleep. While the child grows and explores their surroundings, the parents explore and discover new joy through the eyes of their child, experiencing the sounds of words, the smells of flora and the taste of food for the first time all over again. While the child plays and runs and screams with docile joy throughout the house, the parents realize that even their home, property and all their possessions are no longer their own; now all that is mine is yours, little one. While the child is trained in the way they should go, so too are their parents. While the child grows in wisdom and stature with God and man, so too do the parents. While the child lives in submission to their parents, the parents live self-lessly for their children, giving up all they have for their well being. While the child lives a life of utter dependence on their parents, the parents live a life of utter sacrifice for their children. This is vocation of love, giving and receiving.

While the parents are learning that they serve Christ in their child, the child is learning to look to their parents as to Christ himself; for from his hand flows all that supports this body and life. Our heavenly Father gives to Christ. Christ gives to his church. And His children have children. For it is only when parents are raising their own children that they envisage the full weight - with all the diapers and wipes and snotty noses, youthful laughs and tender smiles - what their own parents have done, and continue to do, for them. "To God, to parents and to teachers we can never offer enough thanks and compensation." (Luther, Large Catechism, 4th Commandment, 130).

Thus, parent learns to live in this office by the one who became a child for our sakes. Christ knew dependence and growing, wisdom and learning, daily routines and the like. He was born under the curse of the Law to redeem us from the Law so that by becoming a child of Adam, we might become sons of God. So, while he delighted in sacrifice, we delight in salvation. While he suffered on the cross, we - parents and children together - learn to trust in him for all our needs of body and soul. Why? Because he has done all things well. It is finished. He was perfectly submissive. Perfectly obedient. Perfect in life and in death for us who daily fail in our vocations - both child and parent. And he rose again. He baptizes us and gives us a new birth and a new family; we rise out of the Spirit-filled waters of new creation crying, "Abba, Father! God's own child, I gladly say it; I am Baptized into Christ!"

Indeed, parents stand in a high office. The parent is Christ to the child and the child is Christ to the parent. This is the Lord's doing and it is marvelous in our sight.

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 [Matthew 22:39; 1 John 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.

 Concordia : The Lutheran Confessions. Edited by Paul Timothy McCain. St. Louis, MO : Concordia Publishing House, 2005, S. 371

117 Therefore, you should be heartily glad and thank God that He has chosen you and made you worthy to do a work so precious and pleasing to Him. Only note this: although this work is regarded as the most humble and despised, consider it great and precious. Do this not because of the worthiness of parents, but because this work is included in, and controlled by, the jewel and sanctuary, namely, the Word and commandment of God.
Concordia : The Lutheran Confessions. Edited by Paul Timothy McCain. St. Louis, MO : Concordia Publishing House, 2005, S. 372

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