(This day takes precedence over any other day in the Christmas Season, unless it is January 1. Then this devotion is read in the evening, and January 1 read in the morning.)
The Holy Family
The Sunday after Christmas has been reserved on the Church Calendar as “Holy Family.” The reason should be obvious: The birth of Christ to Mary and Joseph completes the purpose for which God ordained the institution of marriage and family in Genesis 2. God made the man first, but there was not found a mate suitable for him. So God caused a deep sleep to fall upon him that he might bring to Adam one from his own body, who completed him. And in their embrace was the most perfect love between husband and wife that ever was – until they sinned and brought brokenness, rivalry, and intrigue that has plagued the sexes ever since.
Our passage is from Ephesians 5. And the fact that it has been the focus of so much controversy only highlights our present brokenness. If it were followed as it is written – neither used to browbeat women, nor twisted to serve a misguided egalitarian principle – all would be well. God desires our sanctification as His holy people. Marriage and childrearing, that is, family life, is a primary way whereby God sanctifies us as He chips away at our pride and selfishness in the process of being family. As the husband and head of my family, God calls me to the awesome responsibility of loving my wife more than myself; indeed, loving her the very same way that Christ loves his Church. And how did Christ show his love for his Church? By laying down his life for her. A husband’s love for his wife is shown by his willingness to serve her and to put her ahead of himself. In this way, a husband actually sanctifies his wife and makes her holy as his love for her mirrors that of his Lord for his Church. The wife responds by following his leadership, thereby lifting him up and honoring him, making him feel like … well, a man. And together, they rear their children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. Know that in childrearing, you are forming souls. Your job is to raise godly children for the Kingdom. Really.
In a waltz the man leads and the lady follows. She is the mirror image of him, moving with him and following his leads as he turns her this way or that. His main task is always to make her look beautiful – after all, he leads, but she will always be center stage, as the one who completes him. And when it’s done right, there is such harmony between the two that one loses sight of whose leading and following but only sees two people moving as one – just as Jesus taught: “He who created them from the beginning made them male and female, therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife and the two shall become one flesh” (Matthew 19:4-6).