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Monday, January 2, 2012

Husbands and Wives in the Image of Christ and the Church

I've been reading Tim Keller's The Prodigal God, a fine book with some excellent points about the well-known prodigal son parable. In today's reading, I was struck with a lightning bolt about a section of Scripture I've read dozens of times, Ephesians 5. Keller introduced the passage by explaining that marriage at the time Paul wrote the epistle to Ephesus was often about the money and position a wife could bring to her husband. Sex outside of marriage was apparently commonplace, so wives couldn't necessarily count on being the only recipients of their husbands' affections.

At times, I have found myself justifying the sticking point about wifely submission that many get hung up on. I always explain patiently that Paul charges the husband with loving his wife in a Christ-like fashion, commensurate with the care he takes of his own body, thus making submission a joyful and non-threatening thing for wives to do.

Two things never dawned on me. One, Paul promises husbands a reward for their tender care of their wives. He has the confidence to assert that wifely beauty will result from husbands' sacrificial love. I'm not convinced an ugly duckling would be magically transformed into a glorious swan, but I suspect he means love and adoration have the capacity to bestow attractiveness on the object of admiration. These insights put the whole chapter into a revelatory new light for me.

Secondly, 30 out of the 33 verses in chapter 5 of Ephesians admonish husbands on how to behave in marriage. Verses 3-15 contain directives about pure living in general, and sexual morality in particular. Verse 18 urges them not to get drunk; verse 21 tells spouses to submit to one another. Paul's last verse clinches his point, driving home the message of men loving their wives in the same way they love themselves (lest any arrogant Ephesians should interpret his words as license to lord it over submissive wives). In short, he seems to spend an inordinate amount of time advising husbands to earn their wives' trust. Then, almost as an afterthought, he reminds wives to respect their husbands.

I came away agape at the intensity with which Paul argues his case for defenseless women who, at that point in history, were essentially the property of their husbands. His instructions to wives seem sensible and reasonable, when considered in the context of Paul's weighty advice to their husbands.

Just thought I'd share the wealth.

For more like this, check out: Morsels for Meditation...: Babies, Big and Small

Morsels for Meditation...: Seasons

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Love and Latkes (with thanks to Malka Drucker, whose book "Grandma's Latkes" and the recipe therein, were the basis of our feast)

Today our neighbor Anita, who holds a special place in our hearts, gave us the most wonderful gift.

She let us cook for her.

She said - and I believe her - that she adored every bite.

Anita truly is a gourmet cook, and our family has had more than its share of incredible meals at her table. We have feasted on Peking duck wrapped in homemade crepe pancakes, shrimp in cream sauce, hot out of the oven cakes and pastries (from scratch, naturally) with frosting that's to die for...

Let me stop before I open the fridge and expand my waistline even more than it's already grown during this holiday season.

The problem with cooking for someone with such expertise is obvious. How can one with minimal talent in the kitchen hope to please the palate of a connoisseur?

Still, for Anita's holiday gift, my boys set out to make potato latkes for her. My son's dear friend, whom I affectionately refer to as "third son," joined in with gusto, and before we knew it, we had an assembly line of grating and mincing and mixing and frying that blended the aromas of onions, oil and, of course, potatoes into what I'm convinced love smells like.

The best part was how Anita gobbled them up. My culinary friend has a veritable cornucopia of tactful ways to decline seconds, ranging from, "It's delicious, but I just ate," to, "Thank you, but I just can't afford the calories." None of these polite refusals was uttered or even hinted at today. Anita ventured forth calorically, eschewing common sense, and for once joined in our family's habitual piggery. She declared our little pancakes the best ever and, along with the rest of us, indulged freely (sans utensils - commonplace for me and my tribe but, under ordinary circumstances, unthinkable for her), standing up, clutching steamy, starchy cakes with oil-fingered abandon.

It was a gluttonous love fest.

I told Anita that her genuine enthusiasm for the boys' labor of love (she would have choked one down for the kids' sake, because that's the way she is, even if they had emerged gummy and inedible) was a true gift to all of us. Every one of us felt sheer delight at her sheer delight.

I can't think of a better way to start out the new year.