Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mothers’ Day 2010


2 Timothy 1:1-7 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, according to the promise of life in Christ Jesus, to Timothy, my beloved son: Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. I thank God, whom I serve with a clear conscience the way my forefathers did, as I constantly remember you in my prayers night and day, longing to see you, even as I recall your tears, so that I may be filled with joy.
For I am mindful of the sincere faith within you, which first dwelt in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am sure that it is in you as well. For this reason I remind you to kindle afresh the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline.

Raising children is hard work. So much so that an American writer once suggested to never have children, only grandchildren. Bill Cosby talked of the first generation by uttering “parenting can be learned only by people who have no children”. Remarking on the adolescent independence Bill said. “You know your children are growing up when they stop asking where they came from and refuse to tell you where they are going.” Another gave the threat: “What my mother taught me about JUSTICE – “One day you’ll have kids, and I hope they are just like you… then you’ll see what it’s like.” There is also a truth that says, “ An ounce of mother is worth a pound of clergy.”

There is a general consensus about the value of mothers. Most of us can relate stories of a mother’s love or a mother’s protection. It is taken for granted that you do not cross between a mother and her kids. There is wildness in the protection many mothers have for their kids. They not only fiercely protect their children, but they are the ones who leave the way open for them to return home when they leave. There is grace that flows from a mother’s heart that we men struggle with at times.

In Yancey’s book ‘What’s So Amazing About Grace’ he admits that grace is unfair. It is unreasonable to expect a woman to forgive the terrible things her father did to her just because he apologises many years later, and it is totally unfair to ask that a mother overlook the many offences her teenage son committed. Grace however is not about fairness. Yancey goes on to talk about God’s amazing grace - unmerited favour towards us.

Unfortunately, “ungrace”, or the lack of grace, is like the background static of life for many families, nations and institutions. It is our natural human state. We read the paper, watch the news and we can think that we are surrounded by poor examples of mothers and fathers. We try to relate what our faith means to us and so we talk of the Father’s love even though there are many people out there with no father or a negative understanding because of the failures of the dads.  With mothers we have a better record. As we reflect on mothers today we think about the difference they have made in our lives and that of our society.

First, mothers should be saluted for their tenacious love. A mother’s love goes deep. Part of this is the nature thing. Any mother, be it a human or a bear or other animal, does what she can to protect her young. When danger comes near to little ones, you hope you are not the cause of it. A mother’s love for their child can supersede all else, including their own health and well-being. When Bonnie asks how much I love her, I tell her mine is an undying love; but I know her love for us is a dying love - she would give the ultimate sacrifice for us. Jesus said the greatest love is just that - that one would die for another.
That tenacious love mothers have is also long. How long will a mother love a child who wanders far from home, and the values of home? What can a child do to be separated from his or her mother’s love? The answer to both those questions are pretty obvious. I have known mothers who have prayed for their children their whole life. They have been supporters from day one in the areas where it counts the most - eternity. I just read an article about a woman who lost her parents 11 years ago. About a month before they died she had a dream they died and phoned them. The woman’s mom told her they had recently been on a plane with very rough weather and they didn’t know if they were going to make it. What did she pray for when she thought it was the end? She prayed for her daughter, for all the things she would need if they were gone. A month later they did die in a plane crash and eternity will reveal the fact that she was still praying for her daughter. A mother’s love is tenacious -it is deep and long.

Does this remind you of Another’s love? There is One who loves with an agape mindset. It is an unconditional love, and whether you had a great mom or not; regardless of whether you mom is still alive or not, there is Someone who loves you with much more than a mother’s tenacious love. God loves you - so much in that while you were still a sinner, still far from Him, He died for you. His agape love waits for each of us, every day, to come to Him so that He may bless us with His presence, with His love. That love is shed abroad in our hearts by the Spirit. His love has no limits and He has promised His presence and acceptance for all of eternity. We sing that song, “How Deep the Father’s Love For US” and wonder that we could be loved so much.

Secondly, mothers should be saluted for their tremendous impact. When you read this passage from 2 Timothy you can see the eternal impact a mother can have. Men tend to leave the babies to the mother. They get all busy working and then get home and get tired and watch football or hockey, while the mother continues 24/7 care for the child and the house. When the kid gets old enough to throw a football or shoot a puck, then dad then perks up and thinks he can contribute. Meanwhile the child has the faith of their mother. The developmental years of the child were spent in the arms of his or her mother. I am reminded of the stats that talk of how men are happier after marriage; women not so much. These days it tends to be the day care workers that spend the most time with the children, and we need to be careful where that will take us as a society. Many a leader in the church today will talk of time spent with their mother; of the influence of their mother’s prayers on their life. A mother’s love is transformational. To know you will always be accepted regardless is a priceless thing. It can provide that safe place to grow and learn and explore.

There is that other One whose love changes us, who provides all the resources we need to live in holiness. He goes before us, setting things up by His prevenient grace. He can do that, because He is not tied to our time, but is outside of time - He is eternal. He knows us intimately for He is our Creator. In this knowing He provides what we need to stand in this fallen world. He has given us a Comforter, a guide on our path. And His love and grace is not just for the good ones, but for all. While we were yet sinners He died for us. All these things are about impact - impact not just in the world, but in our individual lives. He is changing us, and His Kingdom is about change in the people, the world around us. We are not saved just for eternal life, but to effect peace and justice, love and grace in this world today. The P E A C E Plan is an initiative begun by Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California. Senior pastor Rick Warren's stated intention in launching the P E A C E (or PEACE) Plan is to involve every Christian and every church in every nation in the task of serving people in the areas of the greatest global needs. The tag-line is 'Ordinary people empowered by God making a difference together wherever they are'. P E A C E is an acronym for the stated methodology for achieving the plan: "Promote reconciliation - Equip servant leaders - Assist the poor - Care for the sick - Educate the next generation." We are all called to that on the local level; to be involved in people’s lives, helping with needs as we can. In doing this we are worshiping God. In doing this we are following Him. In doing this we are living out our faith in life.

Mothers should be saluted because where they are that is where home is. What makes a home? Is it the four walls and a roof? There are many people without that - does that make them not a family? Watching the news in Nashville this week and seeing the effects of flooding you quickly come to the conclusion that most of what we have is just stuff. It is not going to last forever, and will probably leave our possession one way or the other much sooner than we expect. If it is not the stuff, it must be the people. A home is where the love is, where the care is, where the relationships are. Studies in years gone by show that being loved and accepted is ranked consistently as one of the highest values we hold dear, whether we are young or old. We all need a place to call home, but it is with the right people regardless of the place. Most often than not, that is where mom is. As we grow older, we still need mom, we still connect.

Doesn’t this sound familiar too? The church is all about meeting together in the presence of God. The Bible doesn’t say, “Where you have a nice building, I am there.” It doesn’t say, “Where you have an ordained clergy, or a nice red hymnal, or any of the things we like to think are important, God is there.” It says where 2 or 3 are gathered. We could go meet in a cardboard box and still have a wonderful meeting in God’s presence. I am glad we have this facility, but it doesn’t make us any more a church than without it. We have one another, and that is what is important. It is the people - the love and grace between us that makes our community our home.

So we celebrate Mothers’ Day. Motherhood is vital, and it is important to understand what God has built into mothers is a reflection of His love and care for us. The chorus we sang earlier? The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, His mercies never come to an end. They are new every morning, great is Thy faithfulness O Lord.

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