13/8/2000 Peace with my family : Exodus 20:12,14. ( Matthew 15:3-9 )

Introductory Talk

Explain that today we're going to do a bit of research and you'd appreciate everyone's help. They can either stand up briefly or raise their hand in answer to each question.) Ask if there's anyone in church today who has a brother or sister in their family. Anyone who has a grandad or granny in their family? Are there any grandads or grannies in church today? What about aunts and uncles ? Who has an aunt or an uncle in their family? And is there anyone here who is an aunt or uncle? How many people here are sons? And how many are daughters ? Finally everyone who has (or has had) parents to stand up - everyone should be standing.

Thank everyone for their help and invite them to sit again

When God made us he planned that we should belong to families Whether we live on our own or with a group of other people we're related to other people in our family as sons daughters sisters brothers parents , grandparents, cousins, uncles or aunts. God wants us to enjoy living at peace with our families because it's a group which can enrich us and care for us. But that isn't always easy is it ? So we're going to think how God can help us to grow in our family relationships and live at peace with others. And it all hinges on respect.

Adult Sermon :

A little girl was talking with her father, 'Mummy has no idea how to raise children', she said. 'How can you say such a thing ? ', said the father.

'Well ,she always sends me to bed when I'm not sleepy, and then wakes me up in the morning when I am !'

Those of us who have been parents can identify with this type of situation, and also will admit that there are times when we fail to get things right as a parent. After all, we get no formal training in it ! We have to learn as we go on, often by our mistakes.

Perhaps we are fortunate enough to look back to our own childhood and see important foundations that we want, or wanted to pass on to our children.

Last week we started a sermon series on the Ten Commandments and looked at the commandments concerning God, and the need to love him with all of our being all of the time. This sermon was entitled, 'peace with God. This week it is 'peace with my family'.

The family is an environment where we can learn to love. To receive undeserved love, forgiveness, care, respect, and loyalty. It is also an environment where we can learn to give and show love, forgiveness, care, respect and loyalty.

What people may understand by 'family' is changing. The number of families consisting of a married couple with their own children is diminishing and a much wider definition is being used in society. Society is getting older, too. In 1997 20%, 1 in 5 of the U.K. population was over 60. By 2010 this will be 25%, 1 in 4, and 33%, 1 in 3, by 2025.

These things are relevant because these commands were given to a people who lived in close family units with grandparents, parents and children being together. There was no state pension or provision for residential care. A couple might have a number of children in the hope that some of them would survive long enough to provide for them in their old age. This type of situation happens today in parts of the developing world.

Just because society is changing does not mean that we can ignore God's laws, though the practical application of them may be different.

Exodus 20:12 "Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you.

Family life can be difficult, a place where we cannot have our own way all of the time, even if we are convinced we are right ! Sometimes we have to respect the point of view of someone else, even if we disagree with them.

Within the family, God wants children to honour their parents. Honour involves respecting someone, thinking the best of them, noticing their needs and working to provide for them. This reflects the debt of gratitude owed by children to their parents for loving and caring for them, providing food, clothes, a home, and a free taxi service. I wonder if Moses ever turned out a midnight to give one of his sons a lift home on a camel !

Of course there will be some people whose memories of a parent may not be positive ones. This should not blind us to the need to give respect to them because of God's law, rather than because we think they deserve it. After all, as we saw last week, these commands were given to God's people after they had been graciously delivered by Him. God didn't require them to earn his favour, but he did require them to be devoted to him and his ways in gratitude. To show that he was their ruler. We are also called to reflect the undeserved favour and forgiveness that we have received from God through Jesus.

Our reading from Matthew 15:3-9 showed Jesus upholding the law over religious tradition. At this time a son could withhold money or possessions that were due to his parents by declaring that it was 'korban'. 'Korban' was a gift promised to God, yet retained by the son and still used by him. This was part of the religious 'Halakic' tradition that came after the law, and was used to avoid it's obligations.

Jesus called the Pharisees hypocrites, play actors, because they pretended to be religious yet did not uphold God's law.

This is a challenge to us today. To make sure that our Christian profession is backed up by our actions. Older children have a responsibility to their elderly relatives, especially if they are infirm. Even though there is a State Pension and the facility for residential care in some situations, this does not absolve a child from his or her responsibility to their parents.

I know that a number of you here have had to make difficult decisions in looking after elderly relatives. In some cases this has involved feelings of guilt for putting them into residential care, whilst at the same time knowing this is the right decision. There has also been a financial cost for some to get the best home for their relatives.

Younger people who are Christians are called to give honour to their parents, even if they are opposed to their beliefs. But parents, too, have a responsibility to their children... Ephesians 6 :1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 "Honor your father and mother"- which is the first commandment with a promise - 3 "that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth." 4 Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.

Exodus 20:14 'You shall not commit adultery.'

Both these commands are about commitment and faithfulness.

In 1998 there were 267,303 marriages, and 145,214 divorces in the U.K. Those who cohabit before marriage were twice as likely to be divorced as those who did not. This exposes the erroneous theory that cohabitation is good foundation for marriage. I think it shows that a good marriage is about attitude not practice !

A recent paper from the U.S.A. suggested that approximately two out of every three married men commit adultery and one out of every two wives. It suggests that the adultery is not usually primarily about sexual attraction, but about other, unmet needs within the marriage.

Charlton Heston was asked why his marriage had lasted longer than many of his peers. He said it was the use of three words,' I am sorry.'

When Jesus was asked about divorce in Matthew 19:4 : "Haven't you read," he replied, "that at the beginning the Creator `made them male and female,' 5 and said, `For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh'? 6 So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate." 7 "Why then," they asked, "did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?" 8 Jesus replied, "Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. 9I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery."

Jesus goes back to creation to affirm that marriage is a permanent, public, exclusive commitment. It was given by God and not invented by man. It is vital to the well-being of individuals and society. That is why we should stand up for it against the god of political correctness, which can be an excuse for not confronting sin. Sex is the God-given expression of the loving surrender that has to be at the centre of marriage. So for a spouse to seek sex outside marriage is a lie, a denial of the marriage, and the only grounds that Jesus permits for divorce. This does not mean that divorce has to follow adultery. Repentance, reconciliation and forgiveness is a better alternative.

President Clinton went on television, wagged his finger and declared that he had not had sex with Monica Lewinski. In one sense he was right, but that did not make his actions right or any less adulterous.

Jesus says in Matthew 5:27 "You have heard that it was said, `Do not commit adultery.' 28 But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.'

Adultery begins with that thought and has devastating consequences. It shatters trust, intimacy, and self-esteem. It breaks up families, ruins careers, and leaves a trail of pain and destruction in its path. The potential legacy of emotional pain for children should be enough to make a person stop and count the costs before it's too late.

Even when affairs are never exposed, emotional costs are involved. For example, adulterers deprive their spouses of energy and intimacy that should go into the marriage. They deceive their marriage partners and become dishonest about their feelings and actions. One writer says, "The infidelity is not necessarily in the sex, but in the secrecy. It isn't whom you lie with. It's whom you lie to."

Only about 35 percent of couples remain together after the discovery of an adulterous affair; the other 65 percent divorce. Perhaps nothing can destroy a marriage faster than marital infidelity. God was not being a spoilsport when he said, 'You shall not commit adultery.'

No parent or spouse is perfect all of the time. We have all fallen short of the ideal that God sets us and, probably, the standards we set ourselves. But we have hope and forgiveness in Jesus if we say we are sorry and decide to change direction and go forward in his strength.

Our family relationships can point to other relationships.

We are a church family, united by God's Spirit and love. Therefore, we have the duty and the joy of sharing love with one another, a love which will be a witness to the world. John 13:34 "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."

The relationship of a child to it's father points to the fact that we are children of God. A God who is perfect and loves us more than we can ever comprehend ( Luke 11:11-13 ).

The relationship of a husband and wife points to the relationship of Jesus, the bridegroom, and the Church, the bride ( Revelation 21 ). Just as a bride looks forward to her wedding day, so we can look forward to being united with Jesus into eternity.

Invite congregation to stand, join hands and say, line by line after preacher...

Bind us together

In the strong love of God.

Serving one another

With honour and respect.