By Rev Angela C Bosfield Palacious
The home is the first church a child should experience. It is a place to be presented to God for blessing, to be taught to pray as Jesus taught His disciples, and to learn how to listen for God’s voice like Samuel: 8 A third time the Lord called, “Samuel!” And Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.” Then Eli realised that the Lord was calling the boy. So Eli told Samuel, “Go and lie down, and if he calls you, say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.’” So Samuel went and lay down in his place. The Lord came and stood there, calling as at the other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” Then Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.” And the Lord said to Samuel: “See, I am about to do something in Israel that will make the ears of everyone who hears about it tingle. (1 Samuel 3:8-11NIV).
Jesus was taken to the synagogue: “When the time came for the purification rites required by the Law of Moses,Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord 23 (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, ‘Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord’), and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord: ‘a pair of doves or two young pigeons.’.” (Luke 2: 22-24 NIV).
In the same way, members of the family are to bring the child to church to be blessed and prayed for on a regular basis. Reinforced by the teaching given at church, the parents are equipped to teach christian values and morals, to help their children learn to face and overcome challenges as David did with Goliath, and to offer a godly example of marriage and family life.
Eden was the first home: a place of reverence for God, of responsibility for creation and respect for each other. It had been created to be a place of harmony and peace, of tranquility and plenty, of blessing and bliss. Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.’...God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day.” (Genesis. 1:26-28, 31 NIV).
Eventually marred by disobedience, disrespect, dishonour, and distrust, they were expelled from the garden.
In Jesus Christ, we have the New Adam and the New Eden (the kingdom of God). As a result, within the church family, we expect to find the qualities listed in Colossians 3:12, Galatians 5:22 and elsewhere: love, joy, peace, goodness, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, patience, self-control, humility, compassion, forgiveness, integrity, honesty, along with respect for others, attentive listening, open sharing, generous giving and holy living. In every Christian home, we look to see modelled: men, women and children loving each other with compassion and caring, sympathy and sharing, devotion and dedication. Inside each heart, we hope to cultivate a tender vulnerability and a courageous accountability.
A vision of Christian marriage becomes that of: “Two gifted people called by God to journey together in love to serve God,” even as their home fosters “breathing space” to follow the personal call of Christ, while building up the whole body of Christ. Such a relationship brings glory to God, just as holy singleness does. It is a matter of obedience to a call within a relationship with God that is supremely over all.
The plan and purpose of the family is to prepare every individual for a creative and Spirit-filled life. In coming to know who we are in the family, we are better able to give ourselves in loving service to others. No family is perfect, so we need to seek the help that is available in order to come closer to the ideal. The plan and purpose of the Church (as a place for the lost to find God’s love and be freed from sin) fits into the larger plan for the redemption of the whole world. Person by person, family by family, nation by nation, we will experience the true meaning of grace.
Are you ready to be changed from glory into glory so that the image of Christ shines in your life? Are you praying daily for your family to be healed from its besetting sin (incest, addictions, violence, promiscuity or anything else)? Find out causes, get counselling, ask for prayers of deliverance, and wage spiritual warfare. We all have to help the family rediscover its role in the wonderful work that God is doing before our eyes.
• Rev Angela Palacious, a motivational speaker and author of several devotional books, is an Anglican priest. She may be contacted at 393-9000 or by e-mail at email@example.com.