Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Honor - What Are You Doing This Easter?

04/04/2007 LANGHORNE, Penn. Today was another one of those days where I woke up early and couldn’t get back to sleep. After I got up and started thinking about the day, I remembered some words that are very important to me and I began to repeat them several times:

“Honor your father and your mother (which is the first commandment with a promise), that it may be well with you, and that you may live long on the earth.” (Ephesians 6:2-3 quoting Exodus 20:12 and Deuteronomy 5:16)

Another is something that my mother taught my family when she lived with us for a short time. In her younger years she had been a nanny for a Jewish family in Baltimore and she was to make sure that the children recited the following every night before they climbed into bed:

“Sha-ma Is-ray-el. A-do-nie El-a-hay-nu, A-do-nie a-hud” which translated means, “Hear O Israel. The Lord our God, the Lord is one.” (Deuteronomy 6:4) In Jewish tradition this is called “The Great Sha-ma.”

A couple of blogs ago the word “Honor” was used in a context where you might think that it was only related to one’s service to their country. But that word has a meaning that includes much more than that. I had the privilege of serving in Vietnam . I am also married to a wonderful lady who was born in South Korea . Our last duty station overseas was as a family for two years in that same country. My brother Warren worked for two years in Japan for a large company. So we Wingers know a little bit about the oriental culture.

We here in the West to a large part think in terms of “Right” and “Wrong.” If you’ve ever wondered why you couldn’t understand maybe the Eastern culture, it’s because they don’t necessarily think and live in the framework of those Western words. Their culture is all about “Shame” and “Honor.” Think about that for a minute. There’s a whole lot more involved in those words than in ours, isn’t there, especially when you think about family and the whole social structure thing.

But getting back to those words above, who are those that you honor in your life? Who in your life are those that you hope each day you will never bring to shame? Is it your father and mother? Is it other relatives or friends? Think about the ones with which you spend Thanksgiving. For many that holiday is spent with the most important people in our lives – family or some version of it.

Yesterday was the Jewish Passover. The day after tomorrow is Good Friday. Sunday is Easter. It’s Holy Week. It’s a time where most of the nation honors God in some way – God our Heavenly Father. Back in the day when my brother and I were kids, we were in church on Good Friday and on Easter morning. Even if we didn’t want to go, we were there. Mom and Dad said so – end of story. Solomon wrote to all of his children who would someday be parents:

“Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 6:22

Maybe you needed to have confirmed today that being in church is still the right thing for you and your family on Easter morning. Maybe you only go to church once a year and Easter is it. It still is the right day to go. Maybe you haven’t been to church in a long time and because it’s been so long you just don’t think you should do it. Today is the first day of the rest of your life. It’s never too late to try church on Easter. Maybe you’re older and your kids are all grown up and out of the house now and you many not know what they’re doing this week. Call them up. Remind them that being in church is still the right thing to do this Sunday.

Shame and Honor – Right and Wrong – there is a whole bunch of meaning inside those words. But maybe your definitions have gotten blurred of late. Maybe you are only seeing them through a glass darkly. Go to church on Easter. You might just find the definitions for which you’ve been looking or of which you need to be reminded. Oh yeah - and after the service, drop someone a line who may have taught you that being in church on Easter morning was a good thing to do. Tell them how it went. Be a blessing. Honor them, and through that experience, honor the God they serve, the same God Who loves you and has a plan for your life.

Happy Easter :-)


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