21 June 2010

Easter 6 C - Mother's Day

Easter 6 C and Mother’s Day

Acts 16: 9-15

John 14: 23-29

St. Luke’s, Burlington

9 May 2010

By Stuart Pike

Julia Ward Howe instituted Mother's Day in the United States as a peace rally event, asking mothers of her day to meet in public to protest war and violence ‑ her thinking was that mothers would be opposed to anything that threatened their children. The day has evolved considerably from Howe's vision, which really involved mothers accepting responsibility to the world because of their children, and not children honouring mothers.

The original Mothers' Day proclamation was written by Julia Ward Howe in 1870, in which she calls on all mothers to protest violence as a means of resolving conflict. She had seen the carnage of the American Civil War and the world was witnessing the violence of the Franco Prussian War. She wrote, "We will not have great questions decided by irrelevant agencies. Our husbands shall not come to us, reeking with carnage, for caresses and applause. Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn all that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience. We women of one country will be too tender of those of another country to allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs."

She then calls for an international congress of women "to promote the alliance of the different nationalities, the amicable settlement of international questions, and the great and general interests of peace." The original Mothers Day was a call for women to come together, and find a way to stop the culturally sanctioned destruction of the lives of their children (in this case by warfare).

Today, Mother’s day has become a day when we remember our mothers with love. It is often a time to remember the love which our mothers showed to us. It brings back memories of home life; perhaps a sense of nostalgia for a happy time of life. A mother’s love is often taken for granted.

What is the difference between a dog and a cat?

A dog looks at his owner who feeds him, protects him, and cares for him, and says to himself, "She must be a god." 
A cat looks at his owner who feeds him, protects him, and cares for him, and says to himself, "I must be a god."

Sometimes in our relationship with our mothers we adopt the attitude of the cat and take the love and care our mothers for granted. We take ourselves to be gods and mothers are simply there to serve us. On a day like this we are invited to adopt more of the dog’s attitude and be thankful and grateful for mothers’ love and care. I think the most beautiful thing that God ever created is a mother.

The love of a mother is often portrayed as a reflection of God’s love for humanity. Indeed, there are feminine images for God and for Jesus, and they are most often associated with a passionate love. In Deuteronomy. God is likened to a mother eagle who protects her young and hovers watchfully over her nest. I think we need to be able to God our creator as both Father and Mother.

In both Matthew and Luke, Jesus describes his love for the people as a mother hen who gathers her brood under her wings.

I believe that most often God’s passionate love for us is shown through the love of other people. One of the ways that God chooses to love us is through the love of our good mothers. A good mother’s love is a sacrament of God’s love.

Today it is Mother’s day, but, in the Gospel reading for today, it relates one of the last peaceful scenes which Jesus will have with his disciples. It is during the last supper and Jesus is preparing his disciples for what must soon come. I wonder if we can imagine how Jesus is feeling at this moment.

He knows that in order for him to return to the Father/Mother, he must leave his disciples whom he has guided and loved and protected. He must break this news to them gently.

You can imagine how the Disciples would have felt. Here they have followed him, their Master and their friend for all this time, and now he must leave them.

They must have felt lost, and without direction. If you read before today's gospel lesson, you see that during the supper, Jesus got up from the table and washed the disciple's feet, to show them, that although he was the master, that we all need to know how to serve one another.

Then he tells them that he will be going away (he means his death), and what follows are lots of questions from his alarmed Disciples. Peter asks him, "Lord, where are you going?" Thomas said to him, "Lord, we do not know where you are going, how can we know the way?" Philip asks Jesus to show them the Father. And Judas (not Judas Iscariot) asked him: "Lord, how is it that you will reveal yourself to us and not to the world?"

Of course, Jesus knows the anxiety that all of the disciples are under, and so he answers the questions in a way that will help them after he is soon to be crucified.

Jesus promises them the Holy Spirit, and he promises them his peace. And then he tells them what to do, or how to be to assure them that he and the Father will be with them. He says: "Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them."

This is how we are to be in order to have Jesus and our Father with us all of our days. We are to keep Jesus' word. This is the word which we read in the Gospels, which we have spoken of in the rest of the N.T., and which we have prophesied of in the O.T.

It is important for us all to have a good understanding of Jesus' word from the whole of the Bible ‑ that we might keep his word.

But the best way to summarize Jesus' word is to turn to Jesus' own summary of the Law, which we read at the beginning of the service: to paraphrase it is to love God with everything we are and everything we have, and to love our neighbour as ourselves.

Of course, the disciples didn’t understand all that Jesus was speaking of at the time. At first, all they understood was the depth of their loss.

There are many in this congregation who have lost their mothers. They too might feel like the disciples in this passage did. And yet, Jesus promises them his peace. And the only way that they can experience this peace is through the Spirit.

The presence of Jesus and our heavenly Father/Mother is known to us in an intensely beautiful way through a spiritual relationship. In this spiritual relationship, Jesus and our God make their home with us. And this relationship will one day bring us truly home. Amen.

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