2023-05-14 Easter 6 + Mothers Day
Christ is Risen! He is Risen Indeed! Alleluia!
A pastor was reminiscing about ministry in his first congregation. He had a rather gruff and somewhat problematic church member who was also head of the Ladies’ Aid group. He said “For 12 years of my life, the second Sunday of May was nothing but trouble … I was obliged in some way to address the subject of Mother’s Day. I couldn’t avoid it. No matter what I decided to preach on, when the second Sunday in May rolled around, I was always warned well in advance by that outspoken woman: ”Pastor, I’m bringing my mother to church on Mother’s Day. You can talk about anything you want, but it had better include MOTHER, and it had better be good!”
Lest I incur the wrath, Happy Mother’s Day to all of our moms! It is my privlege and honour talk about one of God’s greatest gifts ever: our mothers! We wouldn’t be here without you! Mother’s Day isn’t a church holiday or festival but it is exceedingly appropriate for us to commemorate God’s supreme gift of Mothers. In fact, Martin Luther, in his Large Catechism spoke very highly of Mother’s and the respect due to them. “Honour requires not only that parents be addressed kindly and with reverence, but also that, both in the heart and with the body we demonstrate that we value them very highly, and that, next to God, we regard them as the very highest!”
A teacher gave her class of second graders a lesson on the amazing magnet and how it worked. The next day in a written test, she included this question: “My full name has six letters. The first letter is M, and I pick things up. What am I?” As the teacher was marking the exams she was astounded to find that almost fifty percent of the students had written the answer “MOTHER.”
There are many wonderful examples of faithful mothers and grandmothers that we have in the Bible. I think especially of Paul’s words to Timothy “I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure dwells in you as well” (2 Tim 1:5). This has always been an intriguing verse to me because despite the idea that the Father is to be the Spiritual head of the house, how many countless Mothers out there have been the ones to pass on the faith when Dad was found faithless? Or I think about the time when I was in Ukraine and you saw all of those Babushkas milling around. It was the Grandmothers who kept the faith alive when Communism sought to kill the Word of God. They were the heroins of the faith who passed the Word on to future generations.
As we are now late into the season of Easter, the focus begins to swing from the empty tomb to that which comes next. Our Lord’s promise of the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost some 50 days after Easter. The Spirit is the very mysterious Third person of the Holy Trinity, not just some force or energy from God. He is the Helper, the Counsellor. He will be the one to teach all things to the Disciples and remind them and us of everything that Jesus taught. The Holy Spirit works through God’s Word – the Bible – and the Sacraments of Baptism and Holy Communion. Those are the places that He does His thing for sure.
In the third part of the Apostles’ Creed, we talk about how the Holy Spirit calls, gathers and sanctifies His people, the church. We say that He calls people to faith in the Gospel and then gathers all of those people into the church, the communion of saints. It is there where He continues to make us Holy by faith in Christ through the Word, our Baptism and the flesh and blood of Christ Himself. But you know what else, the Holy Spirit works through people too. He works through Moms! With every Bible bedtime story and bedside prayer, the Holy Spirit works. With every Sunday School lesson taught, the Holy Spirit does His thing. All these things effectively preach the word of Christ and bring faith.
The Holy Spirit illuminates this world of sin. He brings the light of Christ to the nations, and the nations to the church. He brings the message of free salvation. The Nicene Creed calls Him the “Lord and giver of life, who proceeds from the Father” - He brings from death to life in Christ and He richly gives the gift of faith. It is by faith that Christians see the love of God, not in His power or His glory but in the self-sacrifice on the Cross for the sins of the world. Such love shows the heart of God. A loving God would not let our heinous sin stand in the way and be a barrier to His love. The Holy Spirit shows us Christ, our Saviour, who followed the will of the Father and laid down His own sinless life for us, sinful people. This love is mirrored and reflected in the self-sacrifice of Mothers for their kids. Moms endure the pain of childbirth, the sleepless nights, the stress, the grief – all because they love their children! It is the very reflection of the Divine love of God in Jesus Christ for us.
The Holy Spirit uses Moms and works through them. It is the Highest Christian calling to be a Mother. Just as the Holy Spirit teaches us all things, our Mothers teach us much too. For instance, our Mothers teach us the gift of foresight: “Make sure you wear clean underwear in case you’re in an accident!” They teach us the ins and outs of logic: “If you fall out of that tree and break your leg, don’t come running to me!” They teach us to be faithful and to pray: “You’d better pray that stain comes out of the carpet!” They even instruct us in the physics of time travel! “If you don’t straighten up, I’m going to knock you into next week!” Believe it or not, Moms teach us about contortionism: “Will you just look at the dirt on the back of your neck?!” Mothers also tell us about perseverance: “You are going to sit there until you eat every last piece of broccoli.” They also delve into genetics: “You’re just like your father!” How about the weather: “It looks like a Tornado ripped through your room!” And, finally, our Moms teach us about the circle of life: “I brought you into this world, and I can take you out!”
But above all, our mothers teach us about the limitless love of God in Christ Jesus. They teach us about forgiveness. But being a Mom certainly isn’t easy! You may feel inferior because you’re not a “Martha Stewart Supermom!” Maybe you don’t have it all together and you feel like you are failing. Maybe you have a lippy kid like my Mom had who gives her lots of flack. I remember one such Mother’s Day card a certain son gave to his mom: “I was going to buy a card with hearts of pink and red. But then I thought I’d rather just spend the money on me instead. It’s awfully hard to buy things when one’s allowance is so small, so I guess you’re plenty lucky I got you anything at all! Happy Mother’s Day. There, I’ve said it. Now I’m done. So how bout getting out of bed and fixing breakfast for your son?” Perhaps you have felt unappreciated and even neglected as a Mother. But, please, take heart! God’s forgiveness is there for you too and His strength shall carry you through the toughest of times. Always remember, your self-worth as a Mom and as a person does not depend on you being “super-mom” or doing all things perfectly. Rather, your worth depends on who you are: a Baptized child of God, forgiven and strengthened by His grace. A shining jewel of limitless value and worth!
I am reminded of an army chaplain who went to visit a wounded soldier in the hospital. After the visit when it came time to pray, the padre was kind of bewildered that the soldier didn’t ask for the usual prayer of speedy recovery. Instead, he asked for a prayer of thanksgiving for his mom! He was thankful for his loving mother who cooked for him and cleaned for him, who comforted him and wiped his tears when he had a nightmare, who prayed for him and taught him the Bible stories and the Christian faith, who sacrificed everything for him! There is no way to possibly repay Mom for all of her work and service. The only available option is to thank her, love her, and honour her for being her!
Likewise, there is no way to repay God for His love and grace and all of his wonderful benefits to us – including our own Mothers. Just like Mom there is no need to. They do it simply because they love us. The love you have for your Mom and the love she has for you is a beautiful reflection of God’s amazing love for us all. There can be no contract on such grace and love! Thanks be to God. Amen! Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed, Alleluia!