5 Easter Mothers Day Sermon
Rev. D. K. Schroeder
2 Corinthians 9:6-7
May 10, 2009
Hymns (from The Service Book and Hymnal):
203 "At Thy Feet, O Christ We Lay"
95 "At The Lamb's High Feast We Sing"
---- "Thank God For Christian Mothers" (see Mothers' Day 2007 for text)
578 "Abide With Me"
CELEBRATE TODAY CHEERFULLY
TEXT: "Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver."
This past week as I was reading the newspaper, I read Amy Dickenson's advice column. For those of you who might be unfamiliar as to who Amy Dickenson is, she is the advice columnist that replaced Ann Landers in a lot of daily newspapers.
To this, Amy Dickenson wrote this reply: "Dear Denver: Although Mother's Day seems to have morphed into a free-for-all celebration of all-things-Mom, in my view, the day should be one where we daughters (and sons) honor and celebrate our own mothers -- and not a day where we expect our mothers to celebrate our parental status. After all, haven't our mothers already done enough? This means that you should honor your mother (if possible) and your daughter should honor you. Acknowledging your daughter's new motherhood last year was thoughtful. She also should have honored you on the day. That said, you and your daughter seem to have unresolved issues that have descended into petty and mutual mommy-baiting. I hope you can take a long view, work things out and acknowledge each other."
Another woman from Chicago provided this commentary: "Sad to say, but generations X, Y and Millennials are 'all about me.' That's why a significant proportion of them don't remember their mothers on Mother's Day. I've concluded it has little to do with the kind of mother they have and everything to do with the kind of inconsiderate person they grew up to be (despite decent parenting)."
That being said, I think Amy Dickenson is right. Mothers' Day has morphed (or changed substantially) into something it was never intended to be. Mothers' Day has gone the same way as have Christmas and Easter. In so many instances the original intent has been completely overridden with selfishness, greed, and guilt.
And if you want to do a comparison, only 4.71 billion dollars were spent on dear old dad on Fathers' Day last year, which is 70 percent less than people spend on Mothers' Day. Somehow it just doesn't seem fair.
But be that as it may, the various merchants, especially the restaurants and florists and greeting card people, look at Mothers' Day with huge dollar signs in their eyes. They are taking advantage of the feelings of guilt and greed and selfishness experienced on this day, and they're laughing all the way to the bank.
As I was pondering the spirit of this holiday, I began to look at different Biblical texts that would adequately describe the proper spirit of Mothers' Day, and do so in such a way that the proper attitude would be fostered and nurtured.
Of course we immediately recognize this as a stewardship text, which describes what a person's attitude is supposed to be when contributing to the work of the Lord. God wants us to be happy givers, to give to him out of a spirit of love and a grateful heart. The focus here is not on the size of the gift, but the attitude connected with it.
When I read that letter in Amy Dickenson's column, I felt like this is exactly what was going on. Here were two women, a mother and a daughter, who were engaging in a childish playground type of behavior. The mother's nose was out-of-joint because her daughter didn't treat her the way she thought she should be treated on Mothers' Day; and in a similar sense, the daughter's nose was out-of-joint because she felt her mother should have done more for her since she became a mother herself. For these two women, Mothers' Day had become nothing more than a competitive battle of selfishness, greed, and guilt, with the poor husband/father stuck somewhere in the middle. I wound up feeling like taking the two of them and knocking their dang fool heads together.
What do these women mean to us? How have these women influenced and shaped our lives? What kind of special relationship have we had with them? Is this something worth celebrating? Isn't there something, in fact many things we need to thank them for?
Those are all rhetorical questions, because we know the answer. A mother's love is something that cannot be duplicated or replaced, and somehow a simple "thank you" seems almost inadequate. Of course, one of the key things for which we can all be thankful is that our mothers carried us during pregnancy and endured the labor pains of giving birth, just so that we could have life. That is one of the most precious gifts a mother can give a child.
But as we all know, mothers aren't perfect by any stretch of the imagination. Sin is a huge factor in the life of every mother. It might not be as dominant or as crass as the example of the mother and daughter in Amy Dickenson's column, but it is a major issue nevertheless.
A child needs to look at his or her parents, at his or her mother and see a reflection of the love of Jesus. Our Epistle lesson for today is all about love; in fact, it is one of the most definitive love chapters in the entire Bible. Listen to the words of I John chapter 4 verses 15-16: "If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us."
One of the best examples of a mother's love I've seen is how she reacts when her child is in court or in some kind of trouble. She cries and is filled with sorrow. Regardless of what her child may have done, whatever wrong has been committed, her love shines through. It is a love that endures regardless of anything else.
In spite of how the holiday is abused, I like Mothers' Day. I think it's great to have a holiday in which our mothers are honored, and where we are given a special opportunity to say thank-you. I've never really gone overboard with getting my mother a whole lot of expensive things. My usual gift for her is to buy her some sort of hanging flowering plant to hang outside of her kitchen window. This year I got her a gerbera daisy plant; other years it has been a begonia, or impatiens, or one year it happened to be a fuscia. It hangs there all summer, so every time she looks out her window, she knows I'm thinking about her.
This year, I'm sure that people will go and spend lots of money on things for Mothers' Day. The florists, restaurants, greeting card people, and even the jewellers will be raking it in.
This year as always, we thank our God for our mothers. We have been blessed by them; and even when we haven't been the children we ought to be, they still love us just the same. And even when selfishness, greed, and guilt threaten to spoil our earthly relationships and this holiday, we know that our relationship with Jesus will always sustain us.
God loves a cheerful giver, and so do our mothers. So when we are searching for something to cheerfully give our mothers, give her what she wants the most--ourselves and our time.