February 17 — Family Planning

Mark 4:26-32
He sleeps and rises night and day, and the seed sprouts and grows; he knows not how.

In marriage, two who were different “become one flesh.” This is not only a reference to the momentary physical act of love, but the way every human being is created. According to God’s plan, your creation was to come in the context of your parents’ love and adoration, suddenly expanding from one another to include now you, the incarnation of their two-become-one.

As parents encounter their child—first feeling kicks, then seeing a face, hearing first words, wiping away tears, giving away at the altar—they see themselves. Parents understand themselves better in the prism of their children. You cannot plan this. Having children is a journey of self-discovery in which your self is enlarged by love.

Luther, like Augustine, understood the posture of sin to be curved in on oneself. Grotesque self-focus eats away at ourselves. On the other hand, when two become one, even the sinner is brought out of himself through the identity he finds in spouse and child.

The world warns the young couple that as soon as you have children, you can’t live for your-selves any more. Exactly. What the world misses is that living for yourself makes you less yourself. Jesus showed us what the most full human life looks like one of utter self-giving!

Jesus’ words remind us that what is true for the family is true for the church. The process of making new disciples is also a joyous self-discovery for the church. When we witness Christ born in a sinner’s once barren heart, we recover more of our own identity in Christ.

As with the family, you can’t plan this growth; “he knows not how.” The growing is from the Lord, and it is a beautiful gift to us. You can and should look for it and be open to it and pray for it.

Bountiful Father, Thy kingdom come among our families and churches! Amen.

Rev. A. Daniel Guagenti
Holy Cross Lutheran Church, Shelbyville, KY