It’s not exactly the most straight-forward Gospel passage: Jesus’ in-depth conversation with God the Father. But it’s safe to say Jesus had a job to do for the sake of the whole world, including for us. Our Messiah had to bring the love of God to life in a more tangible, hands-on way than ever before. So, came the healing, the eating with sinners, the standing to stop public stonings of adulteresses, the feeding of thousands of hungry people, the dying on the cross, the rising from that painful death; all of it to show just how much this God absolutely cherishes us.
And as we gather on this day to remember all the mothers in our life, we recognize that’s meant to be part of their calling too. It is the ultimate desire from God, as they bring their children into this world, that they will not let a single day go by without their child knowing they are loved; not just by their parents and family, but that they are undeniably cherished by God.
Churches continue to drill that yearning of God into the parents when they bring their child to the waters of baptism. We implore mothers and fathers to read the Bible with their child, to pray with them, to bring them to worship and Holy Communion, to encourage their child to remember their baptism; that they are a child of God forever and God has called them to be a disciple of Jesus Christ. We crave that to be the case with every family not so that we have more of them showing up on Sunday mornings on a regular basis, but because that impacts the child in a way we cannot fully explain for the rest of their life. So no pressure or anything, mothers, on this Mother’s Day, and every day, for that matter: just that God has blessed you with this sacred, precious opportunity to care not only for your child, but God’s child.
As for myself, I most certainly would not be standing in front of you today as a pastor without my own mother, and I know with just as much certainty that I did not make it easy for her to say the least. Because I have been told, as much as I adamantly refuse to believe it, I didn’t exactly keep my voice down in my youngest of years. I evidently had a way of letting the entire countryside know when something didn’t go my way. And I have a feeling from time to time my cries cringingly annihilated the ears of people sitting around us in the pews on a Sunday morning. The nursery became my sought-after place of sanctuary instead. No pressure or anything, mothers, just be prepared to take on public humiliation wherever you go in raising not only your own child, but still, somehow, someway, a child cherished by God.
Of course I don’t remember any of that, so I can deny it as much as I want, but nevertheless I remember the days when I still didn’t make it any easier for my mom when it came to me actually paying attention in worship. Even into my teenage years I would sit up in the balcony with friends playing hangman and writing random notes on the back pages of those attendance pads, and the noise from our commentary over those obviously more important matches than whatever the pastor was going on about…let’s just say we more than antagonized the church sound technician recording the service and who knows how many other people down below.
And to make matters worse we would altogether leave the building to walk across the street to the gas station for candy and pop, obviously more pressing matters than whatever was being done inside the church. No pressure or anything, mothers, just be prepared for children to simply be children, perhaps much longer than they should in the behavior department; and still love them just as much: to be that living daily reminder that God absolutely cherishes them.
So it is nothing short of a miracle, that only a mother can pull off, that I stand here in front of you as that same person I paid unequivocally zero attention to for umpteen years of my life. We most certainly need to give thanks to God for all the mothers in our life, whether they are our own or not, who more than took on the calling from God to raise up God’s children with the most tender love that we cannot fully describe.
But we also remember those of us whose Mother’s Day is marred by sadness, disappointment, frustration and anger; for those whose relationship with their mother is distant, for those who lost their mothers in this life, because the job that God the Father called Jesus to do was just as much for them too. The healing, the hope, the new life, the love that can still somehow miraculously triumph over their sadness and anger too. This day when we continue the celebration of Easter and still shout with the ultimate conviction that, “Christ is risen indeed.” This day of the Lord is their day too. This God loves them just as much today and every day. And absolutely nothing can separate any of us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord, because He more than did the job on the cross and out of the empty tomb, and His work is far from finished with any of us. And for that we most certainly give thanks to God indeed! Amen.
St. John's Evangelical Lutheran Church
Rev. Nan Dehnke, Pastor
Office: Mon - Thu: 9 a.m. - Noon