Lenten Devotional: February 15th
Honor your father and your mother, so that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.
I had a pretty great childhood and as an adult I have a wonderful relationship with my parents, so this commandment has always seemed like one I was completely on board with. It's easy to honor people you love and respect.
But this is not always the case. I'm currently part of a Family Systems study group, and have branched out to an online case study group that looks at how problems in the family system can affect multiple parts of your life. From this I've come to the conclusion that a lot of people I admire and work with do not have great relationships with their parents. Sometimes parents aren't good people. Sometimes they are good people, but the relationship is toxic. Sometimes parents, good or bad, are no longer living. Or our true "fathers and mothers" never held that biological or legal title.
So I've been sitting around thinking about how we honor our fathers and mothers, and how we honor them when we cannot, for whatever reason, do so in the traditional way. I think we do this by offering to God and appreciating what we've learned from our parents. Whether it was grace under pressure, how to care for a family, or a clear example of what "not" to do, we can acknowledge the wisdom gained and in time share it with others.
We can seek to build relationships with our elders, not to necessarily creating surrogate parents, but to expand our circles of loved one and to fully participate in Christian community. We can remember the good and the bad and pass it on to the younger generations, so that they may better understand how we came to be who we are.
We can also give thanks to our Lord who has offered our departed parents eternal rest.
Anytime we show honor to a child of God, we honor God, for we are all God's precious creation. So for those who have no parents to honor, seek to honor your partner, your child, or a friend and allow yourself to receive honor from those who bestow it on you. Because this commandment is more about our personal relationships than the way we draw them on a family tree.
God in heaven, creator and parent,
We ask your blessings on the parents of the world. Guide them in their charge to raise up life. We pray for the children of parents who rest with you, that they may have strength and faith in your promise of eternal life. Lord we say a special prayer for the children of abusive parents, for those who are estranged from their parents, and for those who do not know their parents. Send your peace to those who need it and hold them close in their disappointment and anger. May your love rule and continue to change the world.
Rev. Kelly Staples, Associate Pastor, NorthPark Presbyterian Church