Mother's Day 5/13/01, E5C
ove makes the world go around and Mothers are a big part of it. Our New Testaments contain four different Greek words for love and all can be found in a Mother's Love. Storge is the kind of natural affection that we all have for people, animals, and things. When you say that you love your car you are really saying that you really like it a lot. You have acquaintances that you love with this basic level of love. All of us love and respect Motherhood, and thus all mothers in general.
In his book, In the Grip of Grace, Bryan Chapell describes that kind of love: "On Sunday, August 16, 1987, Northwest Airlines flight 225 crashed just after taking off from the Detroit airport. One hundred fifty-five people were killed. One survived: a 4-year-old from Tempe, Arizona, named Cecilia. News accounts say when rescuers found Cecelia they did not believe she had been on the plane. Investigators first assumed Cecelia had been a passenger in one of the cars on the highway onto which the airliner crashed. But when the passenger Register for the flight was checked, there was Cecilia's name. Cecelia survived because, as the plane was falling, Cecelia's mother, Paula Chican, unbuckled her own seat belt, got down on her knees in front of her daughter, wrapped her arms and body around Cecelia, and then would not let her go." (Fr. Jerry Fuller, quoted in a sermon, "Love one Another," for E5C)
Mothers are always doing things like that. Our nation needs to remember when we go to war against another nation that its population is made up of mothers, fathers, siblings, and neighbors who love with this natural storge love that is common between all humans. The Chinese, even the Communist Chinese, love their children too.
A second word used for love in the Greek New Testament is the root word of the name of one of our nation's great cities. However, Philadelphia, called"The City of Brotherly Love," is really misnamed because Philia is a deeper friendship than natural affection, or brotherly/sisterly love. Philia is profoundly personal friendship. We are fortunate if we have a dozen really close friends during our entire lifetime. True friends are precious and we need to cherish each one. Common interest or experience is a basis for the beginnings of philia. In the Church we often find the potential for that mutual affection in Christ. We might feel storge toward our entire Sunday School class, but we might select just one or two with whom we develop a deeper friendship. It is difficult for believers and nonbelievers to develop philia. If Christ has one's first loyalty it is hard for one who does not share that common bond to enter into a deeply personal friendship. On the other hand, when there is a mutual affection for Christ, philia has a head start. We often see this happen between believers.
Mothers have often been the ones who have influenced us to follow Christ. Most psychologists stress the importance of the imprint that mothers make on impressionable young lives. Sometimes I think that most of what I know and feel I learned from my mother. Mothers are often bridge builders in making us the kind of people who can enter into trusting adult philia friendships.
I also personally feel that between adult children and there mothers a deep friendship of philia can develop; especially between believers. Some feel that a Christian Mother's love is even a reflection of God's love for us.
C.S. Lewis, in his book, The Four Loves, defines Eros as far more than romantic infatuation, or sexual love. To him it is the great experience of being in love. It is the romance we have seen modeled in our homes by our parents that has taught us to become persons who could also fall in love. Dads are critical in the normal development of both sons and daughters. Many wonderful children have come out of single parent homes, but in most instances there has been the influence of a positive role model from aunts, uncles and grandparents.
Agape is God's great love for each of us. It is experienced in our choice to become a part of His love. Charles Wesley may have expressed it best in his great hymn, "Love divine, all loves excelling, joy of heaven, to earth come down; fix in us thy humble dwelling; all thy faithful mercies crown!" (UM Hymnal, 384, v.1.) Agape sanctifies all the other loves.
Agape is the love of God in our hearts whereby we can begin to love those who are sometimes hard to love. It is the love that motivates persons to respond to God's call to dedicate their lives as missionaries to a jungle people. Agape is often seen on a Christian mother's face as she cradles her child in her arms.
In his book, Surprised
by Joy, C.S. Lewis shares how it was his mother's love that motivated
young him and his older brother Warnie, to eventually both become college
professors. She was a mathematics professor and an avid reader. She
purchased so many books that their bookcases would not hold them and
she stacked the books on both sides of the staircase and along the walls
of their home. She encouraged her beloved boys to read any and all of
the books, and they did. Little Jack even wrote a full length novel
at age fourteen. Their father is described by Warnie as having only
a "gloomy detachment" for his family, choosing to spend most
weeks away from home, only sometimes coming home on weekends. "I
never met a man more wedded to a dull routine, or less capable of extracting
enjoyment from life." (Letters of C.S. Lewis, Revised and Enlarged,
p.22. After their mother's death during their teenage years, the father
did accept the responsibility of sending the boys away to various boarding
schools, some of which were terrible, but their mother's great attention
had given her sons a solid foundation that marked their entire lives.
Later in life Clive Staples (Jack) Lewis said that it was her love that
eventually brought him to faith in Christ in his thirties. God's love,
combined with the natural love of a mother can work wonders. It is that
type of love that we are most grateful for on this annual observance
of Mother's Day. Thank God for godly mothers!
a sermon synopsis
by C. Robert Allred, Th.D., Pastor