May 11, 2014 – Mother’s Day

Proverbs 8:1-4,10-11, 22-31

Does not wisdom call, and does not understanding raise her voice?
On the heights, beside the way, at the crossroads she takes her stand;
beside the gates in front of the town, at the entrance of the portals she cries out:
“To you, O people, I call, and my cry is to all that live….
Take my instruction instead of silver, and knowledge rather than choice gold;
for wisdom is better than jewels, and all that you may desire cannot compare with her….

The Lord created me at the beginning of his work, the first of his acts of long ago.
Ages ago I was set up, at the first, before the beginning of the earth.
When there were no depths I was brought forth, when there were no springs abounding with water.
Before the mountains had been shaped, before the hills, I was brought forth—
when he had not yet made earth and fields, or the world’s first bits of soil.
When he established the heavens, I was there, when he drew a circle on the face of the deep,
when he made firm the skies above, when he established the fountains of the deep,
when he assigned to the sea its limit, so that the waters might not transgress his command,
when he marked out the foundations of the earth, then I was beside him, like a master worker;
and I was daily his delight, rejoicing before him always,

rejoicing in his inhabited world and delighting in the human race.

John 10:10-18

“ The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand, who is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away—and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. The hired hand runs away because a hired hand does not care for the sheep. I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father. And I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it up again. I have received this command from my Father.”

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Easter 4   May 11 2014   Proverbs 8:1-4,10-11,22-31; John 10:10-18  

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Jesus, our good shepherd, loves us as a mother loves…

In Proverbs (8) we meet Wisdom, who is always personified as a woman in scripture, and who is there in the beginning of creation with God. Two of the greatest Reformation Protestant leaders of old, John Calvin and John Wesley – who famously didn’t agree on the theology of free will versus predestination – but they did agree – the Wisdom we meet in Proverbs is Jesus himself, operating under another name….

The only two figures in the bible we hear described as with God in the beginning are Wisdom here in Proverbs 8, and Jesus in the first chapter of John’s gospel… (and Colossians and Hebrews)…

And Jesus sounds all the more motherly in our reading from John’s gospel today, as he tells us he lays down his life for his sheep… Something nobody does more often than mothers of little children, who do this every day…

Then Jesus tells us he takes up his life again for his sheep… Something again mothers do, every day, also…

And Jesus does all he does for his flock for love, not for money. He contrasts himself with the hired hand who leaves the flock when things get tough. But Jesus loves and lays down his life for his own… because that’s his nature. We belong to him, he belongs to us… Which again, sounds like (next to Jesus) nobody as much as mothers… Which reminds me of an ancient story:

A little boy comes to his mother in the kitchen one evening while she’s fixing supper, and hands her a piece of paper he’s been writing on. After Mom dries her hands on her apron, she takes and reads it – and it says:

For cutting the grass: $5.
For cleaning my room this week: $1.
For going to the store for you: fifty cents.
Baby-sitting my kid brother while you went shopping: twenty five cents.

Taking out the garbage: $1.
Getting a good report card: $5.
Cleaning up and raking the yard: $2.
Total owed: $14.75

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(This conversation obviously dates back to the early 1970’s – you can tell by the pre-inflationary prices. But the story tells a timeless truth… And Harlan Howard, who wrote the lyrics, and Melba Montgomery, who sang it, turned this story into song… And it became a hit… because it touches our hearts… And maybe we know how the story goes.)

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His mother looked at him, and a thousand memories flashed through her mind. She picked up the pen, turned over the paper he’d written on, and she wrote:

For the nine months I carried you while you were growing inside me: No Charge
For all the nights I’ve sat up with you, doctored and prayed for you: No ChargeFor all trying times, and all the tears – that I’ve cried for you through the years: No Charge
For nights filled with dread, and worries ahead: No Charge
For the toys, food, clothes, even wiping your nose: No Charge
Son, when you add it up, the cost of my love is: No Charge.

When the boy finished reading what his mother had written, there were tears in his eyes, and he looked at his mother and said, “Momma, I sure do love you.” Then he took the pen and in great big letters he wrote: “PAID IN FULL

Happy Mother’s Day… for all our mothers… and all our mothers in Christ… and all who mother anyone, anywhere… and for all us who have ever been mothered in Christly ways…

The sign outside our Bourne church this week says: “Biology is the least of what makes someone a mother.” We got an email sent to our church this week saying: “…I just wanted to tell you how much your sign outside (biology and motherhood) meant to me. It brought tears to my eyes. It was the nicest thing ever. As an adoptive mom it made me so happy to read it. I can’t thank you enough!…” (Thanks to Karen Jackman, who chose the message and put it up…)

And Jesus really is like a Mother for us – as much as a brother or father – because biology really is the least important part of being a mother.

The most part important part of being a mother – the part we all get to do – if we’re willing – is to imitate the motherly side of Jesus… who again tells us – that he lays down his life for his sheep, meaning all of us – and takes up his life again, for his sheep, all of us – and he does all that he does for all of us, so that we may have life, and have it abundantly… No Charge…

(And –)

If we really love our mothers, of course we honor them and try to please them every day, not just Mother’s Day. It’s great to take mom to church and out to lunch or dinner and wherever on Mother’s Day. It’s nice to make her a card, take her someplace she likes, or just spend some quality time together… But even our best presents aren’t going to count for much, if tomorrow and the next day we forget all about mom…. and don’t even call during the week…

Same with Jesus. If we really love Jesus, we want to be with him every day… Living together with him. Living out his story… So every mother’s son and daughter will see and know… they too can have life, and life abundant that doesn’t end. The gift of life beyond price we’ve all been given by Jesus. No Charge.

So by all means let’s enjoy this truly beautiful Mother’s Day…

And let’s be truly thankful for all our mothers and all who’ve been mothers for us in our life of faith…

And let’s pray for each other, that we too may be mothers in Christ, for all God’s children… Helping others into the fullness of abundant life without end… Finding love, peace, joy, together, all the way…

Thanks be to God. Amen.

Pastor Tim Atwater

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Thanks all who shared Mother’s Day reflections. (below)

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Mother’s Day Gifts
As a child my sister and I were “Little Mothers” always having tea time with our dolls and or cats. Sometimes we would bandage up our dolls to help them feel better. I was always bringing home sick and injured animals for my Dad to fix. We would bandage them, give them milk and say a prayer over them, which my mother always said would heal them. Kathy and I would always say our little prayers for our little patients. Sometimes they would be gone in the morning and Dad would say they went to heaven to finish getting better. Little did we know that Dad would sometimes help them along to getting better!
Our Texas Grandmother on my Mother’s side of the family was always reading Bible stories to us and we were always in church on Sunday morning. I loved Bible School in the summers and caroling at Christmas. When we lived in England, my sister and I were in a British boarding school, which had a very proper British idea of how proper young lady’s should be taught to be proper mother’s and carry on the traditions of Church and Family.
Arne and I were able to have only one child. Our son, Nathan, whom we love dearly. Even when he would test our limits of parent-hood! Memories of going out to find poster-board the night before a term paper was due. Eating the worst pizza you ever tasted, because this was his first job. Driving to pick him up on the Mass Pike when his car broke down. And our house being THE house for other kids to play, eat and just hang-out. We always enjoyed being with our Nathan and his buddies. When he got into bicycle road racing, his friends were always a pleasure to have crashing at our house before a bike race.
As a Mother, we faced the biggest challenge the Lord could give us. Nathan was hit by a car while riding on a scooter in Kawasaki, Japan. He was teaching English and blooming into a wonderful teacher for children and adults..Because of our deep faith, our Lord was with us in all situations we had to encounter in keeping him alive and getting him back to the states. A mothers bond can go very deep and I feel this deep love with the help of my spiritual up-bringing helped us bring Nathan back to us out of his 8 1/2 month coma from a severe traumatic brain / brain-stem injury.. And God gave us the strength to bring him home to his child-hood home; where his childhood memories were functioning after his severe brain/spinal chord injury. This spiritual up-bringing gave us the strength and courage to re-build his life to the best quality he can achieve.
I know I am not a perfect mother, many mistakes have been made. But the Lord has guided us all the way . I have had many people who have come along just at the right moment to help me stay on a steady course as I grew up, raised my child, living through the nightmare of our child being at death’s door. Being given back to us to bring him back to the best person he can be in his new life.
by Vicki Carr (CUMC)
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Mother’s Day Reflection

When Tim asked that I share some reflections on Mother’s Day I obviously started by thinking of my own mother. I was very blessed in that I was raised by a wonderful woman. Sometimes it is not the person who gave birth to you who is the best mother to you but in my case it was. My mother cared for me, encouraged me and inspired me. A mother makes you feel secure- that there is someone who will love you no matter what. It is however, not always warm and fuzzy. It is her job to help you to grow to be a good, responsible person so there are times when a little rule enforcement is required. Doesn’t this sound similar to our relationship to a loving God? He wants us to be happy, we can stumble and he will forgive, his love is beyond our comprehension. I found some bible verses that I think speak of God’s “mothering”.

Hosea 11:3-4 God described as a mother

God: “Yet it was I who taught Israel to walk, I who took them up in my arms; but they did not know that I healed them. I led them with cords of human kindness, with bands of love. I was to them like those who lift infants to their cheeks. I bent down to them and fed them.”

Deuteronomy 32:11-12 God described as a mother eagle

Like the eagle that stirs up its nest, and hovers over its young, God spreads wings to catch you, and carries you on pinions.”

Isaiah 66:13 God as a comforting mother

God: “As a mother comforts her child, so I will comfort you; you shall be comforted in Jerusalem.”

For me, the visual of the shepherd caring for his sheep, sacrificing out of love for them and in Luke, the shepherd searching for the one sheep that is lost and rejoicing when it is found reinforces the “mother” aspect of God.There was a woman in the 14th century, Julian of Norwich, who wrote: “As truly as God is our Father, so truly God is our Mother.”

There have been many women in my life who have been models of good mothering. My grandmothers, my aunts, my mother-in-law, my sister, my daughters-in-laws, my friends and the women of this congregation have all shown me how to be a mother. I am a work in progress. The people of this church, the women AND the men, look out for each other, share joys and sorrows, work together and support each other. We try to love, care for and support the people in this community, so in a sense we are all “mothering” to each other and to this community.

by Donna Mark (CUMC)

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In the reading today from John, he speaks about the good shepherd protecting the flock. In this reading Jesus is the good shepherd that models maternal care. The first sound a baby responds to is its mother’s voice, like the sheep that responds to the good shepherd’s voice. A mother protects her children with her very life like the good shepherd who lays down his life for the sheep. Being in the position of a mother is an honor to have and be chosen for. You are the protector, caregiver but your children belong to Jesus.

Growing up I had many opportunities to be around unique women.   All of the women in my life, my interactions and experienced with them influenced the mother I became. Some of these women were Dominican nuns, three great aunts to be exact, who profoundly influenced my life. Aunts, that cared for our family while my mother was ill for many years.   My grandmother, a lady who was truly ahead of her time with her words of wisdom. My own mother, in her quiet unassuming nature demonstrates strength and survival, time and time again. Examples of maternal love I witnessed when friends of my mother faced tragic loss but demonstrated strength and grace throughout their life.   My mother lives by her example of giving unconditional support to her family and friends. All of these experiences careful stitched together like a patchwork quilt has made me the mother I am today. It has taught me understanding, patience, kindness, strength, forgiveness and above all, love.

My experience as a mother has deepened my understanding of prayer because every mother knows you spend a great deal of time praying. Praying for Jesus to watch over and protect your flock when they stray from you, and praying for the strength to be a good shepherd like Jesus in the most difficult of times. My experiences with my children have made me a better teacher to the students I work with. I have more compassion and understanding of their needs.   My students may not remember all the academic lessons that I have taught, but my hope is that they learn the lessons I have modeled about treating people with kindness and fairness everyday, and embracing differences. My goal is to give them the foundation to build on just as Jesus gave us the foundation. And it is our role to build a better world while we are in this life.

In Proverbs, Wisdom is personified as female. A female is the creator. She has insight, truth, guides, governs, instructs, and is all knowledge. These are all the qualities that a mother bestows on her children. Thomas Aquinas believed that wisdom must be transformed by love, but also love must be transformed by wisdom. He believed you should seek a life of love, prayer, and service. He said, “The human pursuit of wisdom is more perfect, more useful, more noble and full of joy more than any other human pursuit. If we attain a small portion of this we are (brought in) to the likeness of God, and this leads us to a life of faithful actions in all we do.” I believe this is what a mother does. A mother loves, prays, and is always there with pure joy. A mother’s life is filled with faithful actions.

Faithful women with wisdom are all mothers. It does not need to be a biological bond that brings out the maternal attributes. Reflecting on this in the past week I realized that there have been times when I am more of a mother than a teacher to some of my students. So many women in this congregation have been a maternal example with their faithful actions. Maternal love is something to be acted upon in all you do. Roles can interchange throughout life just as one day you’re a daughter guided by your mother, and then you are mothering your mother in the final stages of her life. So embrace and celebrate all mothers in your life, for the love and faith they have brought to you. One final thought from the song writer Lori McKenna in the lyric about a mother’s love, “My love follows you where ever you go” — it reminds me of the love of Jesus — it follows you were ever you go.

by Paula Leonard Dionisopoulos (CUMC)

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I was fortunate that I had two women to guide me into a Christian life from childhood on. My own mother and my grandmother lived on separate floors in the same house. In retrospect it was wonderful for me, because I could spend time with both of them simply by climbing the stairs.

They both tried to live as Jesus did and to teach their children accordingly. I was a very happy child, and it never occurred to me that I wanted my children to experience something different.

Although my mom and my grandmother had the same goals, their approaches were different – but equally effective. My mom was very “hands-on” at our church. I’m sure there are things I don’t remember, but those that I do will surely give you an idea. She was an active member of the Women’s Club. She worked at many functions, whether it was a rummage sale, or holiday fair, or filling in at the office, or counting the money after the service. Eventually she became a deacon of the church….

As a result of watching mom doing things for others I was determined to do as she did. I sang in the children’s choir, appropriately named “Cherubs,” and then the adult choir. I also taught Sunday School, and as a teen I was active in the youth group.

My grandmother had a very different approach to reach her goal. Her beliefs were more personal, though she was never adverse to sharing them with me as I got older. My grandmother always wrote with a green pen, making it clear that it was done by her. Until this day I am still reading the many things she wrote in her journals or on passages in her Bible and the Daily Word, which she read each morning. The comments often show just how strong her faith was, and how important it was for her to live accordingly, as best she could.

As a result of these two women, “another generation follows” – and I will be eternally grateful.

by Chris Camposano (BUMC)

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Mother’s Day

Today we are here to honor and appreciate all Mothers. When Pastor Tim asked me to speak about being a Christian woman and Mother or my Mother, the first thing I said was “OH, I can’t – my parents didn’t even go to church and I’m not sure I’ve had any Christian influence on MY children.”

But after giving it some thought I realized there WERE some women who helped build my Christian faith. This may not speak to Pastor Tim’s Sermon, but I would like to share some memories I have of those who have filled the role of “mother” in my life as a Christian woman.

First I would like to honor my sister, Joan.

She took me to Sunday school at our neighborhood church when I was young. She was 13 years older than I and taught Sunday school. We were able to walk to church and did so most Sundays. The teachings of Easter and Christmas were my favorite times. We often did Christmas pageants just like the children have done here, and at Christmas we would walk to the Christmas Eve service, which was held at 11 PM. After the service (at midnight) we would walk home trying to see who could keep their candle lit the longest. Sometimes it would even be lightly snowing. Even though I had learned the true meaning of Easter, I loved walking to church in my new Easter outfit and feeling special. I went to youth fellowship there and sang in the choir…NO, I’m not joining the choir! My brother, sister and I had never been baptized so as adults we arranged to have this done at my parents’ home. This was very meaningful and special to us..

The next woman who impacted my faith was my Aunt Ruth.

I went to Vacation Bible School at her church in Brockton. A church my Uncle and Father help build. It was here that I had the opportunity to experience a special worship service to accept Jesus into my heart. I was about 12 or 13 at the time. This was a very emotional and meaningful moment for me.

Without the support and love of my mother I would not have had these opportunities to learn about God and build the faith that I have today. And today I still have special women in my life who fill that role and continue to help me grow spiritually.

It is with gratitude that I would like to bless and celebrate all mothers, and those that fill the role of mother, and the love they share.

by Diane Johnson (BUMC)
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Mother’s Day Reflection

On this very special day, we take the time to remember and appreciate what our Mothers mean to us today, or meant to us in the past, through both words and actions in our lives. Were these actions models of how Jesus expressed maternal care for us? Did true love shine forth for us, as well as compassion, guidance, discipline, support, direction and more importantly, by example?

I’d like to share a few thoughts and memories of my own life growing up in a large family, and how I feel Mom did her very best for all of us, even though she was unable to attend church. She was raised by my grandmother and grandfather in a Christian home, playing the piano in church and being faithful to God and caring for others. After marriage to her high school sweetheart and having children, her life became focused on home, family, and working with my Dad to make a success of a family business called “Bright Spot Gardens.” She truly loved God and all of God’s creations, especially in flowers and vegetables and worked tirelessly to bring the joy of these living plants to others. As the youngest of 15 children, I never appreciated until later in life, the many talents she would pass on to all of us. Her love for us was often unspoken but we knew she loves us all, teaching us to be respectful, polite, compassionate, and especially how to get along with others. Amazingly enough, I never once heard her raise her voice in anger or frustration. What patience she had!

I believe that God endowed her with the many skills and talents essential to caring and providing for such a large family. We were fed well with dad and the boys tending to a huge vegetable garden and the girls canning the fruits of their labor in late Summer, to provide veggies in the winter; raising chickens for eggs and protein, and rabbits as well. We never had to use any programs for assistance, relying on our own resources, with Mom teaching the older girls to cook many a meal. Her organizational skills were amazing!

As each child was born, he or she was assigned to an older sibling for care, thus assuring that all had the extra attention as needed. Actually I have two sisters who both claimed they were in charge of me. I can’t help but wonder if I was very bad so it took two to care for me, or if I was very good. I’ll never know as they are both deceased, but I like to look at it as I was lucky to have them both and doubly loved. Mom sewed many outfits for us, all made from “grain bags” from the chicken and rabbit food, cutting out several items at once and passed along this talent to several of the 9 girls and in turn many of the granddaughters, especially my daughter, Tami. There are only 3 of the 15 children living now, but she left each and every one of us special gifts.

One of the gifts she instilled in me, for which I personally am grateful for was inheriting her organizational skills, which has enabled me to accomplish several goals in life and contribute to society and God’s work in this church and beyond.

I certainly would never claim that life was always rosy and upbeat or perfect, but I emphasize that I truly am blessed to have had a Mother who I believe did reflect the love Christ personified. She showed us compassion, guidance, discipline and support. She provided direction through her words and actions, for experiencing the many life challenges and celebrations we all cope with, and coming out as a stronger, better person. Praise be to God for all Mothers!

by Judy Chamillard (BUMC)

 

 

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