7th Sun. of Easter (Motherís Day) Proper C7                                                
Rev. Dr. D. K. Schroeder
John 17:20-26 Sermon                                                                                                  
May 12, 2013

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Hymns (from The Lutheran Hymnal):
221 "Hark! 10,000 Harps & Voices"
212 "A Hymn Of Glory Let Us Sing"
-----  "The Mothers' Day Hymn" (text at the end)
213 "Hail The Day That Sees Him Rise"


TEXT (vs. 24-26):  ď24 Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. 25 O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. 26 I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.Ē

            Today isnít an easy day for me.  It isnít easy because this is the first time in my 58 years that Iíve celebrated Mothersí Day without my mother being around.  In four days, it will be one month since her funeral.  Seven years ago on Fathersí Day, it was my first Fathersí Day without my dad.  But that was different; my mother was still alive, so it wasnít quite as big of a void in my life.  But now I have no surviving parents, so this is a completely new experience for me.

            With this in mind, I hope that you can give me some latitude today, because I most likely will be waxing nostalgic a bit, as my own mother is certainly occupying my mind.  And I hope that my own appreciation and memories of her will help you focus upon your own mothers and grandmothers as well. 

            Mothers, and parents in general, have a very prominent place as far as God is concerned.  When God gave the Ten Commandments, the Fourth Commandment, to honor your father and mother serves as the bridge between the first and second tables of Godís law.  The first table of the law is focused upon our relationship with God, and the second table of the law is focused upon our relationship with other people, which include our parents and others in authority.

            The reason this is often called a bridge, is because our parents are Godís representatives on earth.  They have a special duty, which the Apostle Paul lays out quite nicely in Ephesians Chapter 6, verses 1-4: ďChildren, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 ĎHonor your father and motherí (this is the first commandment with a promise), 3 Ďthat it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.í 4 Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.Ē

            At my motherís funeral last month, even though I didnít conduct the service myself, I did have the opportunity to get up and informally address the people assembled at the service.  The one thing I wanted them to know was my motherís faith, and how she shared that with me from the time that I was a little boy.  Iím going to share a few snippets from that address with you today.

            When I was a little boy, my mother used to tuck me into bed each night.  We used to pray together the prayer many children learn:  ďNow I lay me down to sleep, I pray thee Lord my soul to keep.  If I should die before I wake, I pray thee Lord my soul to take.  I ask this all for Jesusí sake.  Amen.Ē

            I also remember my mother teaching me the Lordís Prayer during this time.  My tongue would get kind of twisted with some of the words, but she patiently taught them to me until I got it right. 

            From my earliest recollection, my mother talked to me about heaven, and about how much Jesus loved me, and that he was always looking out for me.  My mother made sure I knew my Saviour. 

            Because I grew up in a parsonage, I learned about death and dying at a very early age.  I especially remember once when a little girl in our congregation, younger than me, died suddenly.  And of course I had questions about that.  But my mother told me that everybody dies, some people younger than others; and that Jesus would be sure that I would go to heaven whenever that might happen to me.  She assured me that death was nothing I needed to be afraid of.

            We had many bedtime moments when I was little, and at her funeral, as well as today a whole flood of those memories are coming back to me.  This is the deep abiding Christian faith of a mother as she shared that faith with a child the likes of me.

            I am a theologically trained individual, and you know that.  In August, Iíll be celebrating the 25th anniversary of my ordination.  And for the past nine years, I have been serving you as the pastor of Mighty Fortress.  But I can tell you that a person can have a whole bunch of impressive letters after their name, like A. A.; B. A.; M. Div.; and PhD.  A person can have the title of Pastor, or Reverend, or Doctor.  And along with this, a person can have their head filled with all sorts of knowledge.

            But all the knowledge in the world is of no use if the faith isnít there.  The picture of a mother sharing her faith with her little boy is something that no college, or seminary, or classroom, or professor can give.  The faith my mother shared with me is the same faith I share with you.  And itís no more complicated than a mother talking to her young son as she tucked him into bed.  Thatís the way the Holy Spirit works sometimes, in simple yet profound ways.  The bridge between the head and the heart is something only God the Holy Spirit can do.

            As we look at our First Lesson today from Acts chapter 16, this is part of a very interesting section about Paul and Silas sharing Godís Word with others, and how the Holy Spirit worked faith in the hearts of people.  The chapter opens with a discussion about Timothy, who was studying to be a pastor under the Apostle Paul.  Timothy was instructed in the faith from the time he was a tiny baby by his mother Eunice and his grandmother Lois.  Even though his father was an unbelieving Greek, his mother and grandmother made sure he was brought up in the faith. 

            In the section just prior to our First Lesson, we see the story of a woman named Lydia, and how the Holy Spirit worked faith in her heart.  This was something so great that she shared it with her family.  Everybody in the household was baptized.  Some were probably too young to fully comprehend what was happening, but Lydia would faithfully instruct them.

            And then our First Lesson is the account of Paul and Silas being flogged and then thrown into jail in Philippi.  And while they were incarcerated, there was an earthquake and the doors opened up and their shackles fell off.  But the men did not escape.  Instead, this became the jailorís call to faith, and it became a complete turning point in his life.  Then Paul and Silas baptized his whole household from the oldest to the youngest.  The Holy Spirit was at work in that family too.

            Our Gospel Lesson for today, which is the main text Iím using, is part of what is known as Jesusí high priestly prayer.  Jesus is talking with his heavenly Father just prior to the events leading up to his crucifixion and death.  Judas would betray him.  Peter would deny him.  He would be arrested, tried, convicted, beaten, and crucified.  Things were happening at a break-neck pace. 

            So what does Jesus pray for in the midst of all this?  Does he ask for his enemies to be dispatched?  Does he pray for any of the creature comforts of life?  Does he pray for a fair trial? 

            Jesus prays that people would be the recipients of his great love, that they would know him as their Saviour, and that they would inherit the kingdom of God for eternity.  He wants people to be united in the one true faith, to know the truth of Godís Word, and share the love of God with each other.  Jesus wants the unity to be a true one, and not something contrived by human minds and logic.

            And as we put this together, it becomes clear that parents need to be sure this faith is shared with their children and grandchildren, and other family members.  Eunice and Lois shared this faith with Timothy.  Lydia shared this faith with her family.  Faithful mothers have shared the faith down through the generations.  And yes, my mother shared her faith with me.

            Having a strong faith is important in preparing a child for the world of sin that is out there.  Sin and grace arenít just vague concepts, but very real truths.  Children know what sin is, probably more clearly than we think.  They know temptation, like how tempting it is to take a few cookies when mum has said ďno.Ē  Maybe temptation comes in the form of taking something from a shop, or using bad language. Children see sin being lived out as they encounter schoolyard bullies and those people who want to harm them, or those who steal from them.  Children are tempted to lie.  Sin is a very real thing.

            For children, just like adults, Jesus paid the price for everybodyís sin.  A child needs a saving faith just the same as an adult does.  Everybody needs to know the love of Jesus, because thatís the whole reason behind his mission on this earth. 

            Theologian Karl Barth wrote many things, one of which is a 12 volume set of Christian Dogmatics, or the mechanics of the Christian faith.  After he wrote this, he was being interviewed by a reporter.  The reporter asked him what the most phenomenal thing was that he had discovered in all his studies.  Karl Barth replied, ďJesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.Ē    The simple faith of even a child is one of the most profound things that exist.

              On April the 9th, I had the opportunity to reverse the roles with my mother.  I was at her bedside this time.  Now we had talked about death before, and I knew she was not at all afraid to die.  She knew where she was headed, and her faith in Jesus was intact.  But this time, I was the one bending down to kiss her, telling her how much I loved her.  I told her to look at the cross and cling only to Jesus in faith.  Jesus would be sure that she would reach heaven safely.  Then I prayed the Lordís Prayer with her, and said the benediction, that the Lord would give her peace both now and in the life to come.  Shortly after that, the angels came and carried her away as she breathed her last.  She departed this world in the peace that only Jesus could give.

            In her final days, we did a lot of reminiscing about times past and the different things we did when I was growing up.  We shared some laughs and some tears, but there was never a moment that I doubted her faith, that faith that she shared with me, and our talks we had at bedtime.

            This morning I have something very special to share with you.  When I was cleaning mumís stuff out of her apartment a couple weeks ago, I found a small piece of paper.  On this paper was a poem she had copied from someplace.  The words are actually from a Bonnie Owens song.  Her handwriting was shaky because of the medication she was on, so she printed it, something she didnít normally do.  I know it was recent.  She also put it in a place where she knew I would find it.  Hereís what it says:

            ďA tiny turned-up nose, 2 cheeks just like a rose, so sweet from head to toes, that little boy of mine.  2 eyes that shine so bright, 2 lips that kiss good night, 2 arms that hold me tight, that little boy of mine.  No one will ever know just what his coming has meant.  Because I love him so, heís something heaven has sent.  Heís all the world to me, he climbs and sits upon my knee.  He will forever be, that little boy of mine.Ē  And at the bottom, she drew a heart.

            Sheís with Jesus now, so every day is Mothersí Day for her.  Her mansion in heaven is about the best Mothersí Day gift she could have ever hoped for.


     (tune:  TLH 294)

1.         A Christian wife and mother
            Godís gift from heavín above.
            To members of her family
            A source of constant love.
            A help-meet for her husband
            In good and evil days;
            A blessing to her children
            In eíer so many ways.

2.         She always well remembers
            Her marriage vows with love;
            To live in sacred honor
            With help from heavín above.
            With him whom she has taken
            As partner in her life;
            According to Godís ordínance
            A truly faithful wife.

3.         She looks with love and favor
            Upon her children fair;
            As precious gifts from heaven
            God gave into her care.
            With Christian admonition
            And nurture in the Lord;
            She rears them well and wisely
            With Scriptureís full accord.

4.         Thank God for Christian mothers
            Remember them today;
            And call upon your Saviour
            To bless their earthly stay.
            They are a nationís blessing
            A stronghold in the home;
            We honor and salute them
            Now and in life to come.  Amen.

                        - - John Mueller