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2024-05-12 Easter 7

Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed! Alleluia!

You know that drawer you have at home? It’s a got the stapler, some fun tack, some markers, some stamps, maybe a wrench or two, a USB drive for the computer, a phone charger, the hole punch, a bottle of essential oils, spare batteries for the TV remote, a scratch pad, a remnant of a roll of mentos candies, a screw driver and maybe some bread bag ties - you know, that drawer!? We all have atleast one of the veritable junk drawer, right?! But it’s not junk! It’s valuable stuff that we no doubt have a use for, but just not at the moment. So there the stuff sits, a hodge podge of all kinds of things waiting until the time is right! That’s kind of like today in the church year. We have got so much different stuff going on in the same place, it’s not even funny! We have the seventh and final Sunday in the season of Easter. We have the Ascension of our Lord which just took place this past Thursday and for the icing on the cake, today is also Mother’s Day! We have got themes and stuff galore all coming together today!

Two young boys were talking with their dad about what they were going to get for their beloved mommy for Mother’s Day. The older boy thought long and hard about it. He said “Instead of just a bottle of perfume for mom on Mother’s Day, we’re giving her a promissory note stating that we will never cause another problem, fight or make mom crazy ever again!” …The dad listened to his eldest son and then replied “That’s a tall order, son, do you really think you’ll be able to keep those promises?” The younger son, realizing that this would be utterly impossible up and says “You’re right Dad, could I borrow some money for a bottle of perfume?!”

The world’s greatest vocation deserves the world’s greatest present! So Happy Mother’s Day to all of our moms! I know without a doubt that 99.9% of all moms would gladly take 1 day without their kids driving them up the wall over all the top shelf perfume in the world! I’ve said this every year since forever that motherhood is the highest vocation God has made. There is no other office in the world that has as much impact and influence over the next generation of humans than motherhood. This is why we have a whole commandment dedicated to it. “Honor your father and your mother.” What does this mean? We should fear and love God so that we do not despise or anger our parents and other authorities, but honor them, serve and obey them, love and cherish them” as Luther puts it in the small catechism. It is also the only commandment with a promise: “that your days may be long, and that it may go well with you in the land that the LORD your God is giving you” (DT5:16). The office of motherhood is to be held in the highest regard and for good reason.

As you read through the Bible, we encounter many iconic mothers along the way. In the very beginning, we meet Eve, whose name means “Mother of all living.” Then we see Sarah, one of the great matriarchs of the scriptures becoming a mother late in life in accordance with God’s promise to Abraham. We also meet Hannah who wanted so desperately to have a son but she was barren. She continued to pray and pour out her heart to the Lord saying: “O LORD of hosts, if you will indeed look on the affliction of your servant and remember me and not forget your servant, but will give to your servant a son, then I will give him to the LORD all the days of his life” (1Sam 1:11). And the Lord heard her prayer, giving her Samuel who grew to be a mighty prophet and judge in Israel, dedicated to God all his days. And who could forget Elizabeth? Another mother in old age who gave birth to John the Baptist, the forerunner of the Christ. Which of course leads us to Mary, the mother of Jesus, the mother of God. Nobody could have had a more miraculous maternity story than Mary!

And so we see the story of salvation is matched with motherhood! The golden strand through the quilt is to see how God uses this high vocation of motherhood to bring about His plans of forgiveness, life and salvation for we sinners in Jesus Christ our Lord. As our moms take inspiration from the mothers of the Bible, they quickly realize that faithfulness and determination really set the theme. These saintly moms of the Bible were women of prayer and dedication, almost always in the face of difficult circumstances or strife. For Hannah, her barrenness was a source of shame and harassment from her husband’s second wife Peninnah who had many children. Despite these difficult situations, she prevailed in prayer, constantly seeking the Lord. And the Lord heard her prayers, giving her not only her son Samuel, for “the LORD visited Hannah, and she conceived and bore three sons and two daughters” (1Sam2:21).

It’s here in the trenches of motherhood that we really see the battleground of the Christian faith. The difficulties we face throughout life teach us to persevere. They help us to mature and rely upon God for help in all trials. This message isn’t just for moms, of course, it goes for all of us. St. James writes in the very opening words of his letter: “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (1:2-4). I’ll bet this sheds new light on those motherly experiences of cleaning up puke and poop for all those years! Count it all joy, ladies! Count it all joy!

This was likewise for St. Paul. He had what is called the “thorn in the flesh.” It was some problem or ailment that the Lord would not take away from him, no matter how much he prayed about it. God’s ultimate response to Paul’s prayers was this: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2Cor 12:9). These difficulties and trying times we face are reminders that we absolutely need to trust in God and rely upon Him for all things. It is His strength that is going to get us through. And even more to this idea, we are given another direct promise from God: the Helper, the Holy Spirit who will be with us and guide us and encourage us with divine help and peace. He is on His way, next Sunday in fact. This was the promise Jesus gave His disciples at His Ascension: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8).

This promise is so huge and important for us as God’s people. It’s a blessed assurance that everything isn’t on our shoulders and up to us. Rather, we see that God Himself will be our Helper. He will uphold us with His mighty arm. He will give us Divine strength to endure our challenges be they those of Motherhood, battles with our health or just the hum drum things of every day life. The power of God in the Holy Spirit comes to each of us in our Baptism and by faith. His presence is with us, filling us and helping us to share the Christian faith with others who likewise need the help that faith in Christ brings. He comes to strengthen us, assuring us that Christ our died and is risen for us. He gives this same assurance in the bread and wine of Holy Communion. Sins forgiven. Love overflowing. Helping in abundance. Thanks and praise be to our God now and forever more. Christ is Risen! He is Risen Indeed! Alleluia!

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