MOTHERS’ DAY (4 Easter)
Rev. Dr. D. K. Schroeder
Genesis 22:2; 9-12 Sermon
May 11, 2014

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Hymns (from The Lutheran Hymnal):
628 "Shepherd Of Tender Youth"
436 "The Lord's My Shepherd, I'll Not Want"
----  "Thank God For Christian Mothers" (see below)
209 "Who Is This That Comes From Edom?" 


TEXT:  “(And God said to Abraham) Take your son, your only son Isaac whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I shall tell you.”   When they came to the place God had told him, Abraham built an altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar, upon the wood.  Then Abraham put forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son.  But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven, and said, “Abraham, Abraham!”  And he said, “Here am I.”  He said, “Do not lay your hand on the lad or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.”

            I saw a humorous Mother’s day card the other day.  On the outside, it said, “Mothers, treat your children well.....(and then inside it read)....for they shall be the ones to pick your nursing home.”

            This all reminded me of a mother’s day years ago, when I was only about 7 years old.  It was the typical type of mother’s day, I suppose.  Mom and dad had gone to Sioux City the night before for supper and left me with a baby sitter.  Then on Sunday, I gave her the card I had gotten for her.

            It was sometime after lunch when I was reflecting on all of the hubbub created over Mother’s Day and Fathers day, that I happened to mention to my mother, “You know mom, there ought to be a Children’s day too.”  It was a very serious comment.  I thought about getting neat gifts, and having mom make my favorite meal or even take me to Sioux City for supper, and all sorts of those nice things.  It seemed fair to me really, because everyone in the house would have a special day.

            I didn’t like mom’s response however.   In a very sarcastic tone of voice, mom said, “Children’s day?  Hah!  Every day is children’s day!” 

            Well mom’s sarcasm wasn’t too well received by me.  I don’t know exactly why, but I ran to the kitchen and got the calendar down.  I flipped the page, and sure enough there it was!  The second Sunday of June was designated as children’s day.

            I ran into the next room with the calendar and showed it to mom.  “Here, just look here, there IS a children’s day!” 

            Mom looked at it and said, “Yes it is, and so is this one, and this one, and this one” as she pointed to all the days of the week. 

            Well, I did know one thing.  In our house, we celebrated all of the various holidays, like Mothers' and Fathers' Day, Flag Day, Independence Day, Christmas, Easter, whatever.  So I just knew we HAD to celebrate Children’s day too!  I made sure to circle the date on the calendar, so nobody could miss it.  After all, I had just discovered this new holiday that mom and dad had never heard about before.

            So I waited.  I watched the calendar like a hawk, seeing each day tick away just one step closer to Children’s day.   I couldn’t wait for it to happen!  What am I going to be getting?  Cards, and presents, and maybe even a cake?

            The day finally arrived.  I rushed downstairs, waiting to see something.  Mom and dad said “good morning.”   I said, good morning back them too, and then asked, “Isn’t anyone going to wish me happy Children’s Day??”    Mom, not looking the least bit enthusiastic, said, “Okay, Happy Children’s Day.”

            I decided they must be waiting until after church to lavish me with these neat gifts.  So I got ready for church.    No mention of it being Children’s Day there either.   What was wrong?  I knew my parents hadn’t forgotten.  After all, there it was, just as big as life on the calendar, and I had taken the trouble to circle it and everything.   So I waited with anticipation until our lunch was over.  But all mom and dad did was go into the living room and read the Sunday paper!  I was mortified!  I said, “It’s Children’s Day today.  Where are my cards and presents?” 

            Mom kind of laughed a bit.  “We don’t celebrate Children’s day.  You’re not getting anything special.”

            How dare mom make fun of me on my special day!  I was absolutely heart broken.  I felt just like somebody had completely blown off my birthday.  I was really upset, and mom and dad just didn’t care.  It was on the calendar and everything.  The day HAD to be celebrated!  It just HAD to be!  As I was sitting in my room crying to myself, I was thinking of an appropriate response in my mind.  I felt like saying something to my parents like, “Well!  See if I get you anything on Mother’s Day or Father’s Day any more!!” 

            Since Children’s Day comes on the second Sunday of June, I think we were having Vacation Bible School that week.  So the next day, I asked one of my friends at VBS what he had gotten on Children’s Day. 

            He looked at me sort of strangely, so I explained to him how it was on the calendar and everything.  “I didn’t get anything,” he said.  “Me neither,” I replied.

            It was then that he and I got this brilliant idea for a hoax; well, maybe it was mostly my idea.  We would ask all the other kids what they got for Children’s Day, and if they said nothing, then we would tell them about all of the neat stuff WE got for Children’s Day.  We figured that if all the other kids would get their parents to get them stuff, then our parents surely wouldn’t want us to be left out.  Nothing like a guilt trip from a 7 year-old, I guess.

            Well, things sort of backfired.  Instead of this holiday really taking off, we had a lot of angry parents calling our house demanding to know what this “Children’s Day” stuff was all about, and why were they being made to feel like lousy parents for this ridiculous holiday.

            Mom and dad were not too pleased, although I think they finally realized how serious and upset I was about the whole thing.  I don’t remember what was said or done about this, but I do know there was a lot of drama that followed; and that was the last time Children’s Day was ever mentioned in our home.  But, like the good son that I am, I continued to celebrate Mother’s Day and Father’s Day for the rest of my parents' lives.

            Just in case you all are interested in some trivia, yes, there really is a Children’s Day, although the actual date varies from culture to culture.  In the United States, it's usually the second Sunday in June; or I’ve also seen it happen on June 1st.  Another date that is given is August 24th.  Different cultures also celebrate it; it’s a big holiday in Japan and South Korea, on May 5th.  Mexico also celebrates it on April 30th.  They celebrate it by having organized activities for kids.  India celebrates it on November 14th, Singapore on October 1st, and the date November 20th is known as International Children’s Day, set in England where the holiday originated.     But I haven’t noticed it on any U. S. calendars for quite a long time.  The calendar makers were probably getting tired of getting complaints from distraught parents.

            But aside from the sarcasm and disinterest in the whole thing, mom was right you know.  For a mother (and also a father), for there to be ANY sort of Mother’s or Father’s day, every day HAS to be Children’s day.  With this in mind, let’s look at our text for today.

            This morning, I used as sort of a pre-text the story of Abraham and Isaac, and the terribly tough task Abraham had been given by God, to sacrifice his only son as a burnt offering.

            Now even though Sarah, Isaac’s mother isn’t mentioned in this particular story, yet her presence in the grand scheme of things is very important.  After all, Sarah was 90 when she fell pregnant with Isaac.  Sarah laughed that God should so bless her with a child at her advanced age.

            And so for this to actually happen to her was a miracle beyond all comprehension.  You can bet that Sarah was absolutely delighted in becoming a mother for the first time, and you can also bet that every day in Sarah’s life was Children’s Day as far as her relationship with Isaac was concerned.  She had to be one of the happiest mothers ever to exist.

            Just think now what Sarah would have felt like if Abraham would have had to actually go through with the slaying of their son, let alone how Abraham would have felt?  We can assume that Sarah knew nothing of this testing of Abraham’s faith before-hand anyway.   What do you suppose she would have done had she known what was going on?  Would she have created a scene?  Would she have hidden Isaac so he couldn’t go with his father?  Would she have been absolutely hysterical?  I wouldn’t doubt that she would have been!  After all, God was testing Abraham’s faith, and not Sarah’s.

            Yes, we can only imagine what that house was like as every day was Children’s Day.  His parents would have provided for him with the best that they had.  He would be raised in the training and instruction of the Lord.  The household of Abraham and Sarah and Isaac was indeed a household of faith, as they lived their lives in continual gratitude to God.  For Sarah, being a mother was one of the most important things in the world to her.  And most certainly she accepted that role quite seriously.

            Yes, I do believe that having a special day to honor Mothers and God’s gift of motherhood is a great idea.  Mothers and wives are held in high esteem according to God.  But as I think about all the mothers in the world today, I can’t help but think of those mothers who don’t deserve a special day of honor at all.

            How many babies are being born every day in hospitals that are born addicted to crack cocaine, or heroin, or some other drug?  How many babies are born with permanent defects because of something the mother did during her pregnancy?   How many babies are killed by their mothers either through abortion or some other means?  How many children are victims of child abuse?  Truly these are mothers and homes where every day is certainly NOT Children’s day.

            I remember a while back that there was the tragedy of a 3 month old baby who died of starvation by a neglectful mother.  That mother has been sentenced to prison.  But the sad fact of all this, is that it's not a unique incident.  Things like this happen far too often.

            And so we sit and ponder over these tragedies.  We see mothers who have not done their job, mothers who may have deserted their families, and in general those mothers who have no position of honor when the second Sunday in May rolls around.  And it makes us both sad, and yet thankful when we look at our families and children. 

            But yet we need to look at ourselves too.  As parents, can we also see times in our own lives where we have fallen down in parenting?  Certainly there have been those times where we might have not had a willing ear when we should have, or we lost our tempers at times when we should have shown patience, or times when we have exasperated our children.  As high of a place as God gives to mothers, yet He’s never made a perfect one.

            Thankfully though, He has made a perfect Saviour for imperfect mothers and imperfect people in general.  A great mother indeed is one who recognizes her own sinfulness and imperfections in this great task, and continually goes to the throne of grace in faith for forgiveness, strength, and guidance.  A great mother is one who knows the forgiving love of her Saviour, and shows this to her family.  A great mother will not be afraid to say that she made a mistake and ask the forgiveness of her family either. 

            Today, I think it will all do us well to look at that household of Abraham, Sarah, and Isaac.  The important thing we need to see here is how their household was a household of faith.  God was always put first, as was demonstrated by Abraham’s great faith.  And even though Sarah might not have had the same measure of faith as did her husband, yet you can be sure that she shared a great deal of that same faith. 

            As a little kid, I never realized that for my mother and father, every day was indeed Children’s Day, but I just couldn’t see it that way back then.  I thought mom had it sort of easy, staying at home and not working or going to school.  She could watch TV or do whatever she wanted to do all day long.  I thought every day was mother’s day in that respect!

            But mom of course knew better.  She was a full time mother that made sure her children were well cared for and brought up in the training and instruction of the Lord.  We had clean clothes, and we never missed a meal.

            And so dear mothers, continue to go forth with God’s blessing in your task and privilege of being a mother.   And just remember, that if every day wasn’t Children’s day, there would be no Mother’s day.  Let's close today with a poem written by the poet Thomas Fessenden in the early 1800's:

You painted no Madonnas
On chapel walls inRome,
But with a touch diviner,
You lived one in your home. 

You wrote no lofty poems
That critics counted art,
But with a nobler vision,
You lived them in your heart. 

You carved no shapeless marble
To some high-souled design,
But with a finer sculpture
You shaped this soul of mine. 

You built no great cathedrals
That centuries applaud,
But with a grace exquisite
Your life cathedraled God. 

Had I the gift of Raphael,
Or Michelangelo,
Oh, what a rare Madonna
My mother’s life would show! 

(tune TLH 294 "Munich")

1.   A Christian wife and mother
            God’s gift from heav’n 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 e’er so many ways.

2.   She always well remembers
            Her marriage vows with love;
            To live in sacred honor
            With help from heav’n above.
            With him whom she has taken
            As partner in her life;
            According to God’s ord’nance
            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 Scripture’s full accord.

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