5/8/04, Ascension and Mother's Day, Year A
Opened Our Minds
oday is Ascension Sunday in most western churches but in the U.S.A. its Mother's Day. Any preacher who ignores our Great American Holiday to pay homage to our “Royal Mothers” will be driven out of town. For over 100 years the second Sunday in May has been venerated by law as Mother's Day. And I am all for it, not only because I love this town and do not want to be run out on a rail.
Also, I have come up with, what is probably not, a unique idea to combine the Ascension text with Mother's Day.
The Ascension of Christ back into heaven is a critical aspect of the Gospel Story. The entire Christ Event has, up until this time, pointed toward this day when Jesus officially completed His mission on earth and ascended back to the Father's Throne. Throughout His preaching ministry, and more so following the Resurrection, Jesus had indicated that He would return to be in heaven when His work was complete. These last forty days were spent teaching His followers in an intensive crash course.
Verse 45 of our text says, “Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures.” My cute sermon title is “ She Opened Our Minds.” Does this not describe one of the more important roles that Mothers and Fathers, play in turning protoplasm into persons?
Along with bringing children into the world comes the privilege of nurturing them in the Christian faith. Some seem to plan to leave the teaching, loving and correcting up to God, but it is God's plan for us to do the work and He will provide the guidance and wisdom. Wise parents, mostly mothers, along with extended family, teachers, coaches, church members and even pastors, have a hand in giving little people the best opportunities to become Christian believers and the best person that they can be.
Whenever we as Christians take part in nurturing children we are engaging in about the most important aspect of our ministry. It is indeed a high honor to be called by the Holy Spirit to share in this Divine privilege of parenting.
I have been preaching here for nearly two years and you can recall the many times I have given honor to my: public school teachers, Sunday School teachers, college professors, coaches and scout leaders. I am them as I stand in this pulpit today. Likewise, you can recall the many that were substitute parents for you. In a real way, we are what they were.
Some years ago Marilyn invited me along to a lecture being given by the famous psychiatrist Carl Whitaker, M.D., at The Medical Auditorium on West Peachtree Street in Atlanta . The huge lecture hall was packed; all of the classrooms were filled with folks happy to watch the famous expert on families, on closed circuit television. I do not know what I was expecting but when the great one finally emerged through the curtain and into the spot light; he was not much to look at. An old sweater and corduroy pants topped by long tussled hair and a pipe, which he never lit. He sat on his stool and stared at the floor some few seconds, and then looked up toward heaven, as if for divine inspiration and finally blurted out, “Ever decision that I have ever made in my life was decided by my mother before I was born!” And the crowds were stunned in silence, and then there was a group exhale, followed by applause and shouting. So, it must be true.
Hear this now, this is not “Life according to Bob,” this is the combined studied opinion of hundreds of Counseling Professionals in that incisive moment. We are our mothers, and our children will become just like we are.
And don't we want to make our mothers proud? Are not our mothers present here today “proud as punch” of your children? And this is why we honor our Mothers today. They are high officers in God's plan to continue His Creative Process that we might raise the level of the human race to one day coincide with His Perfect Plan. Thankfully, John Wesley turned out like his mother, Susanna, and not like his erratic father. It's difficult for any person to rise above his/her mother. However, knowing that is true, we can find ways to offer remedial help.
It is also sometimes sadly evident that young people have not made their mothers and fathers proud. Every day in the news we read storied about folks who have not followed in the paths made straight by their families. Sometimes it could be the parents' fault. Perhaps they did not pave a straight road for their offspring to follow. Oftentimes, however, children go astray despite the efforts of a Christian mother.
We can give thanks that all of our mothers and fathers in our church seem to be wonderful, committed and beautiful and are doing their very best. As long as we depend on the assistance and guidance of the Spirit things will usually work out: although it sometimes takes years for prodigal children to come home again.
The point of this text, as I have broadened it, is that the work of the Christian mother is a continuation of the work of Jesus who “Opened the Apostles' and disciples' minds to understand what the Old Testament had prophesied about the Messiah.” A Christian mother's ministry is her mothering. Many of us can say that our mothers were a reflection of the work of the continuing presence of Jesus, as the Holy Spirit, in our hearts and lives. There is no higher calling than to be used by God to reach persons for Christ, and this is the opportunity that every mother has with her children. Somebody asked me this week how I like the new Pope and I said, “He'll never be a mother.”
I really mean it when I said in my first paragraph that our mother's are “Royal Mothers,” in Christ. All you have to do is observe their commitment, caring and concern for their children. Our parents create an expectancy that makes it natural for children to love Jesus as do their parents. Home is a heaven of blessing when God is there!
sermon synopsis by C. Robert Allred, Th.D., Pastor