I told the congregation on Sunday that I would be going to South Carolina for a few days this week on a “Fifth Commandment Mission Trip.” I could see the blank looks on some faces and so I reminded them that the fifth commandment is the one that says, “You shall honor your father and mother, that your days may be long in the land” (Exodus 20:12). A Fifth Commandment Mission Trip is one in which you honor your father and mother by driving to their home in South Carolina with your toolbox and work gloves and doing whatever needs to be done around their house.
I don’t know yet what needs to be done. I don’t know if I will be able to do it. But I hope that my very presence with my aging, ailing parents will honor them. I will probably offer to cut the grass and trim up around the place if that hasn’t been done. I’m sure there will be some small repairs I can make and some painting I can do. I’ll probably make a trip to the grocery store, bring back something really yummy, and offer to cook it. I’ll get Mom to play the piano and we’ll sing a few old hymns. I’ll sit by Dad’s bedside and tell him about my work. At night I will lie down on clean sheets in the guest room, exhausted and grateful for this time with my parents.
Before you click on the “comment” link to say, “Oh, Jim! What a sweet thing to do!” remember that this is a Fifth Commandment mission trip: it’s completely self-centered. I’m honoring my father and mother so that my days may be long in the land, so that when I’m 108 my children will have to pack up their toolboxes and work gloves…
…and come see me.