Hosea 11:1-4 "When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son. The more I called them, the more they went from me; they kept sacrificing to the Ba'als, and burning incense to idols. Yet it was I who taught E'phraim to walk, I took them up in my arms; but they did not know that I healed them. I led them with cords of compassion, with the bands of love, and I became to them as one, who eases the yoke on their jaws, and I bent down to them and fed them."
What has God done for you? Has he loved you? Called you? Took you up in his arms? Healed you? Fed you? Taught you to walk? Has he led you with the cords of compassion? Has God been just like a loving parent? And perhaps that is the problem, because we, as willful children have come to expect that we deserve all this and more. We forget where we came from. We were orphans, not cute orphans, but the orphans with problems, the orphans that no one wanted. But God called us to be his children, he had compassion on us, healed us, and made us part of his family. But we like to forget that part, we like to forget that by ourselves, we would still be poor miserable sinners, who deserve only to be punished.
It is not easy to deal with a willful child, the more you tell them NO, the more they run in that contrary direction. Do you give up, and let them run? No, you patiently teach them, and try as best you can to protect them from themselves. Before they reach the edge, you stop them, you show them the edge, you explain to them what would happen if they go over the edge. Its like that hot stove, you donít want the children to touch it, or to burn themselves, but if they do, you have to be there to make it better, and to remind them why they donít touch the hot stove.
What else do you do? You give them chores, and a time by which they will be done, and consequences if they are not done. This is discipline, a training in the way you should go. And children, being children will try to let these things go until the last minute. Sometimes we can wait, and still get done, but mostly we find that we donít get done, or we donít do it as well as we should. Whatís the point? Do the chores first. Parents are not always predictable. And if this was true when we were young, our texts today tell us it is still true about God, and us today.
We might not have to make the bed, or rake the leaves, or mow the lawn, or wash the dishes, but we all know that God still expects things of us. And God keeps warning us to always be ready. Be ready, because He will return when we least expect it. How do we know this? Well in our Epistle lesson we read: 1Thessalonians 5:2 "For you yourselves know well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night." When the ice came, many found themselves without power, but atleast the ice was a warning, find the candles, get out the flashlight, check the generator,Ö it might be they wonít be needed, but the signs say it just might happen.
So also our Gospel lesson speaks to us: Matthew 25:19 "Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them." God wants us to be ready. God wants us to know that He is coming. God wants to be able to say to us: Matthew 25:21"His master said to him, Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a little, I will set you over much; enter into the joy of your master."
Part of growing up, is learning to act responisibly. It is not something we are born with, but it is something we are taught. It begins by learning to do our chores. In the end we decide to do the chores first, in that way they get done. We begin as willful children, and it is not hard, as a child to imagine that the whole world revolves around us. As we grow in faith and knowledge, we see that the whole word does not revolve around us, but it revolves around God. We are thankful that we can learn about who God really is. That alothough he is the Lord of all, and will come to judge all mankind, we have learned that we can come to God, turning from our sin, and find, not the punishment we deserve, but mercy, and forgiveness. And it is learning of the love of God in Jesus Christ that teaches us to respect, honor and love the God who has loved us, called and chosen us. Nor is it hard to worship the God why took us up in his arms, healed us, fed us, taught us to walk, and has he led us with the cords of compassion, all for the sake of Jesus Christ our Lord. So we remind ourselves, and we remind each other, as the days grow short.