5/14/2000, Mother's Day Year B
I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. (v.11).
As we read the above passage where Jesus draws the analogy between shepherding and His being our protector, we have images of mothers who care for their offspring. Having lived part of my childhood in the country I recall Mother Hens and their instinct to aggressively shield their chicks from harm. The same can be said for all farm animals. God has created mothers to care for their own. It is common to all to cherish our loving mothers.
Anna Jarvis loved her mother so much that she arranged a special Sunday worship service to honor her mother on May 10, 1908. She presented all who attended a white carnation. The idea caught on and in 1914 President Woodrow Wilson, by act of Congress, established a national Mother's Day, for the second Sunday each May. By then it had become customary to present those with living mothers a red flower, and the white flower was reserved as a memorial. Most of us grew up wearing little red rosebuds. Many of you now wear the white flower as you remember Mother, and the love she shared in rearing, and protecting you.
So, it's easy for us to think of The Good Shepherd, as The Good Mother. Motherhood is indeed a ministry that imitates Christ's eternal love for us.
Jesus' own mother was an example of The Good Mother. Mary gave new grandeur to the position of the role of women and mothers. She was always there for her son.
"Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother... When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he said unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son! Then he said to his disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple (John) took her into his own home." (John 19: 25-27.
Christian society assumes a pinnacle position for motherhood. It is a major part of the fabric that has created civilization. As we look at the scope of scripture we see polygamy develop into monogamy and the position of the wife and mother developing into a partnership of mutual submission with her husband. Jesus' mother, and the honored positions of the other women in the early Church, portrays an advanced position of equality for women. On Easter Sunday we heard how the Resurrected Lord first appeared to women, and they were commissioned by the angels to be the first bearers of the Gospel. "G o tell..." (Matt. 28:7).
In today's Church women continue to be a major force in our mission. In every church that I have pastored, women have been a major part of the leadership. This church would falter without the significant women who lead us.
In our homes, mothers form a major role in shared leadership. The New Testament developed a role for parents to divide responsibility for child rearing and for leadership in the home. Just ask the kids how vital a role our mothers play.
However, dads are not off the hook. Dr. Laura is right on target when she stressed the need, whenever possible, for a two parent home. Boys and girls learn to become men and women as they naturally form images of adulthood by modeling their parents. Too often couples divorce without thinking of effects that a single parent household has on their children. When divorce does occur, both parents should make every effort to remain as active as possible in their children's lives. Sometimes it is possible for grandparents, and other extended family, to become involved in their grandchildren's lives. So many times I have seen grandmothers, and grandfathers, share more of the examples of Christian maturity that every child vitally needs.
Dr. Laura may not be quite as right when she stresses that the mother must be a "stay at home" mom. However, she has a major audience in that her daily radio program reaches sixty-million listeners per week, which is twenty times more than the total Sunday School enrollment of our denomination (3,705,863 Yearbook of American Churches). It is true that when the mother is employed there needs to be a shared formula for shared child rearing in which the father must become even more involved. "Newsweek" magazine ran a cover story last week in which youth were polled as to what they needed from their parents, and the number one need, was more time. Kids spell the word love-- T.I.M.E.
Sometimes we parents forget to care. We minimize the need to be at home when school is out. The recent PBS special on the children of our own Rockdale County stated that most trouble that children have happens during the hours between the end of the school day and when their parents arrive home from work. This kind of thing did not happen so much in simpler days on the family farm; or, in the close knit neighborhoods where everybody watched out for everybody else's children.
Recent debacles by sports heroes have underscored the fact that many of us have taught our Little Leaguers how to hit and pitch but have not taught them how to become men and women with ethics and values. Even church folks fail to train up their children in the way of the Christian faith. Sunday School is more important than good grades. Parents take vows at Christening that they will faithfully keep their children in the ministry of the Church, and then walk away from sacred duty. Parents who "sleep in" on Sundays will rear children who will probably "sleep in" on Sundays.
The main thing a mom and dad can do for their children is to lead them into a vital Christian faith. For parents, the Hearth supersedes even the Altar. May God bless and encourage The Good Mothers and The Good Fathers who are striving for their best.
a sermon synopsis
by C. Robert Allred, Th.D., Pastor