Summary: This sermon deals with multigenerational households
God’s Social Security Plan
A few years ago, I received my Social Security statement. I never really read the outside. I always go to the inside to see how much money I’ll be getting at retirement. It tells you if you work until you’re 62, you’ll get this much. If you work until 67, you’ll get this much and as an inducement to work longer, they tell me how much I’ll receive you work to age 70. When I look at that amount, I realize that my retirement from the government is only 25% of what I’m making now. You can’t really live on that. But if you go back and read on the front, there’s a letter which says, “Unless action is taken soon, in just 11 years Social Security will begin paying out more in benefits than we collect in taxes. By 2041, the Social Security Trust fund will be exhausted.” The upshot is there’s not a lot of hope to receive Social Security when I retire.
In the Fall of 2011, my wife asked me if her parents could move in. They had been hit hard by the recession and needed to move in for financial reasons. In addition, my father in law was showing early signs of dementia. So in February of last year, they moved in. It’s one thing to go visit your in-laws but quite another to live with them. We’ve adjusted to each other and it certainly changes the dynamics of the household, for good and sometimes not so good. There have been times when my wife has wondered how long this will last and I remind her it’s until the end of their lives, and they’re in good health! And then there have been times when my in-laws have been away and then come home and I realize that our house is no longer our own. When I walked down the isle 20 years ago, I didn’t think it was a package deal and that it included my in-laws moving in. But as the economy continues to drag and people become more vulnerable financially, this may well be God’s Social Security plan.
The problem with family is that most are problem families. It’s tough to find healthy, normal families these days, whatever that is. It’s not just today. There were a lot of pretty mixed up families in the Bible too. In fact, it’s hard to find healthy families in the Bible. Take the first family in the Bible, Adam and Eve. They had two sons, one, Cain, who killed his brother Abel. Then there’s Noah who after the flood developed a drinking problem and his kids had to cover for him. Then there’s Abraham and Sarah who was barren and so Sarah had Abraham sleep with her maidservant and then Sarah took that baby as her own. Not long after that, Sarah conceives and gives birth to her first son, Isaac. Sarah grows increasingly unhappy having Hagar and Ishamel around and so she forces Abraham to get the first divorce in the Bible, sending both away with no child support.
Then there’s Jacob who dressed up in a smelly animal skin to fool his blind father into giving him his brother’s inheritance. Esau becomes so mad that Jacob ran away, never seeing his family again. Jacob then finds work and wants to marry the boss’ beautiful daughter but to do so he has to marry the oldest daughter first who is ugly. Can you imagine that family, where two sisters are married to the same man, one of whom he wanted and the other he did not? The two wives competed to see who can have the most babies. In the end Jacob had 12 boys. He did the same thing his father did to him by playing favorites. As a result, the 11 oldest boys sold the favorite son Joseph into slavery and then told their father he was killed by wild animals.
You get the picture. Biblical families weren’t all they were cracked up to be. It’s hard to have a healthy family because families are made up of people who are sinful and self-serving individuals and who make mistakes and hurt each other. The reality is we all grew up somewhere between The Cosby’ and Archie Bunker. But despite all of that, we’re still family and we as children have responsibilities to our parents. The Bible says a lot about that. Lev. 19:3 says, “Each of you must respect his mother and father…” Lev 20:9 says, “'If anyone curses his father or mother, he must be put to death.” Our Scripture today is the 5th Commandment which calls us to honor our mothers and fathers. This is the only Commandment which comes with a promise: if you do this, you will live long in the land the Lord your God has given you. This verse gives us the key to God’s Social Security plan: if you love and care for your parents when they are old, modeling that for your kids, you will be cared for when you get old.