5/12/02, Mother's Day
Learned it From our Mothers
ur lectionary lists today as Ascension Sunday; however, in the U.S.A. it is Mother's Day. No date on our church calendar could replace this great day to honor our wonderful mothers and to pay homage to the Christian elevation of the place of motherhood in our homes and in our lives. Anyway, the actual day of Jesus' Ascension back to the right hand of God was last Thursday, and we celebrated that at our regular 12:10 worship service.
Love makes the world go around and mothers are a big part of it. In fact, our New Testaments contain four different Greek words for love and all four are found in a Mother's Love.
"Storge" is the kind of natural love that we innately feel for beloved pets, favorite things and acquaintances. When we say that we love our cat we are really saying that we have an intense emotional attachment. We have friends that we care for with this basic level of love. Civilized people everywhere respect the institution of motherhood. Normal human beings are born with an innate reverence for mothers; and thus, it is un-natural for a person, or group, to lose respect for motherhood, and all women and girls, who are potential mothers who deserve our highest respect. The toughest female Judge or General is given our respect when she steps into her role a mother, wife, daughter, or woman. Mother's Day is set aside as a reminder of our great respect for all women, and to honor all mothers everywhere.
Today is also a day to say that women have proven that they can become wonderful judges, generals, astronauts; and are not limited to the long considered safer occupations such as, teachers and secretaries. We are happy to have a woman physician, or bishop. Most of us have gotten beyond former stereotypes; yet we still honor womanhood as bearers of new life.
It is often difficult to distinguish storge's basic level of love from "Philia," which is more specific. The city of Philadelphia is actually misnamed because "Philia" defines a deeper friendship than "brotherly love" with the general population. Yet, "Storgedelphia" would not roll off our tongues so beautifully.
We are fortunate if we have a couple dozen close friends in life. Common interest or experience is a basis for the beginnings of philia. In the Church we love our brothers and sisters because of mutual love for Christ. Most of our Sunday School teachers have been women who have become like mothers to us. Everyone has a deep love for adult role models.
Philia best describes our special love for our own mothers. To lose this love is an indication that something devastating has happened in our lives. Even if we recognize human failure in our mothers, we still love them with this deep love. Most of us have a deep love for our mothers.
"Eros" is far more than romantic infatuation; it is the great experience of marital love. Spouses love and respect each other in this unique bond. It is the romance we have seen modeled by our parents. It has taught us to become persons who could fall in love. We are born out of this deep loving bond. Holy Matrimony is a sacred union that finds its fullness whenever it is blessed by God. Biblically, marriage is the only place where eros should occur. Most societies recognize fidelity to marriage vows. Hence, motherhood is cherished and protected by laws and customs.
Eros is the basis for our high ideal of the Christian Home, which is in turn the foundation of our society. Children are the products of such happy homes where God is present and love fills every heart, where prayer is heard, where forgiveness is displayed, and where grace is born into the hearts of children. The Christian nurture of children is basic to our devotion to love.
II Timothy 1: 5 records the first known example of Christian Nurture at work in a loving home. Paul reminds the young man Timothy that "faith first dwelt in his grandmother Lois and in his mother Eunice, and that is why it is his now." Faith was not transmitted automatically but was accepted by him as he heard the stories of Jesus from his infancy. However, it was his mother and grandmother that read to him the stories of Jesus. In 3:14, Paul encourages the youth to "continue in what he had learned and had become convinced of because of his grandmother and mother." Many of us owe much of who we are to the fertile breeding ground of our Christian faith to first bud in our homes. Abraham Lincoln said, "All that I am or ever hope to be I owe to my angel mother."
"Agape" is God's great love for every one of us. It is Divine love implanted into our hearts whereby we can truly know and reciprocate His love. Agape is active in our hearts drawing us to God. It works in tandem with our parents and teachers in bringing us to Salvation. Agape is often seen on a Christian mother's face as she cradles her child in her arms. It is this Love of God that makes us feel guilty for our sins, and draws us toward a forgiving father, and or mother, who awaits our return with open arms. It is the experience that first motivated us to respond to God's call to our life's mission. Agape is also the presence of God's Holy Spirit in our lives that guides, enables, forgives and redirects us along the hills and valleys of life.
Agape is also called "Charity." However, it is much more than the current usage of the word that limits it to giving money. Charity/Agape is God at work within us empowering us to give our lives, time, energy, and money to others: It is giving not getting. Agape is the highest love because it is the same kind of love that God has for us and often extends to us through our mothers. We are most fortunate if we have experienced the love of a devout mother.
We will probably repeat on Father's Day that dads are not off the hook of a shared responsibility in child rearing. Perhaps Timothy's situation was that his mother was a widow, we do not know; however, we do know that fathers are responsible, in their own way, in Christian Nurture. Both of my parents spent a lot of time with me. I have shared many loving stories about my parents love for myself and my dear brother. Dad took me visiting with him in hospitals and homes when I was just a lad. He was acting out the role of the Pastor, and Father. Sometimes, when I am going about my responsibilities I have the thought, "I have become my Father!" It is best if parents, extended family, or godparents can become active if one parent is absent. Hillary Clinton coined the phrase, "It takes a village to rear a child."
Hopefully, we can now see more clearly that what we think of as a Mother's Love is a human transport of all four New Testament words for what we lump into one word, love. Just as Paul recognized the unique ministry of Timothy's grandmother and mother in his life, so most of us can attest to the fact that without a mother's love we would have become a mere shadow of the person we are.
Today, we are able to wear the red flower with devotion, or the white flower with loving memories and with an inner assurance that we will one day be reunited with our mothers.
synopsis by C. Robert Allred, Th.D., Pastor