Mother’s Day Message: Love is the key
Rev. Sandy Johnson
May 10, 2015
We are stepping away from our current series on Religions of the World to honor our mothers this morning for Mother’s Day. Next week we will be back on track with Judaism and the following week we will step away again to celebrate Pentecost. It is an old tradition to wear red on Pentecost so I’m giving you all two weeks’ notice that Pentecost is coming, May 24 and to be sure you have your red attire to celebrate the day that the Holy Spirit came onto Jesus’ people. I’ll remind you next week also!
Let us pray: Gracious God, may the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable to you O Lord, my rock and my redeemer. Amen.
Several years ago I was worshipping at a church in Las Vegas. On Mother’s Day the pastor didn’t mention a word about the holiday, not a peep about it being Mother’s Day. I had previously been in churches that had made a big deal out of the day so it surprised me. When I questioned him he said that his first year appointed at a local church, he preached a lovely sermon about the virtues of mothers and motherhood and was rather taken aback when a woman approached him afterward and was upset because she had been unable to have children and the sermon had caused her grief.
So his response was to simply ignore the holiday and pretend it didn’t exist. I prefer to deal with this day forthrightly. I recognize that everything we experience in life, including Sunday morning sermons, are passed through our own filters and experience; and for some Mother’s Day brings grief and sorrow while others find it a day of joy and thanksgiving.
Some of you here this morning are experiencing a first Mother’s Day without your mothers. Some of you are mothers and are spending the first Mother’s Day without one or more of your children. A few of you may be remembering the children that you didn’t have, unable to conceive and carry a child. Some of us are mothers and eagerly await the cards and flowers that surely will come from our children who live far away.
Regardless of our experience of our mothers or being a mom, we all have one thing in common, we all have mothers, right? It comes with the human condition. You couldn’t be here without one. We all can imagine what a “good mother” looks like, those women who could be nominated for “Mother of the Year.” They run their homes like clockwork, children are loved and cared for. They are able to provide for their family’s needs and always seem to have a little bit more to give. These women are self-assured, overflowing with love and caring and aren’t afraid to make mistakes.
But what about the mothers who were unable to take care of their children, or protect them from harm. Some of you here today had mothers who were unkind or abusive. When we come to a sermon about mothers you can imagine all of the heartache and pain that sometimes comes with memories of our mothers.
Here in this room we have mothers who have lost children. It’s tough to be a mother without a child, right? I remember my girlfriend, Ellen, who years ago lost both of her children in a fire. She shared that her whole identity was lost that day. She was a wonderful mother, loving and caring, but in an instant her identity was taken away from her and she felt lost, confused as well as grief stricken.
I guess my point is that regardless of your baggage – regardless of the images, both good and bad that are experienced with the idea of Mother’s Day, I want us to remember those who have loved us, those who have mothered us, those who have been there for us through the years – both men and women, mothers or woman or men who fulfilled that role – and realize that the key is love.
Michael Singleton had no idea how much his mother loved him. The son of an unemployed single mom of six children, Michael had gone to school as he was supposed to, but when school got let out early, he made a decision that his mother would be totally against. The transit system had been suspended due to the riots in Baltimore, the temptation was too great when the students were dropped off in the middle of the demonstrations at the Mondowmin Shopping center. Michael donned a black mask and hoodie and he joined in the demonstrations.
Now, the night before his mother had told him about the violence at the mall and made him swear that he would stay away. That morning she was at the doctor’s office and felt something telling her to go and check on her son. Word had gotten out that the schools had been let out early and she knew she needed to check on her son.
So she went to the mall and saw a group of teenagers who were throwing rocks and bricks at police. It was then that she spotted her son. Toya Graham was so angry that her son would disobey her and make this decision to harm police that she yelled at him to put the brick down. It was then that he knew he was in trouble and she went off on him. Many of you probably saw the video that went viral on the internet of this angry mother, yelling and hitting her 16 yr. old son, doing everything she could to get his attention and protect him from harm.
Ms. Graham has been criticized by some for hitting her child, others have named her “mother of the year.” Some have wondered if more mothers were taking control of their children would the riots be lessened. The police chief in fact said to “Send in the Moms” as a response to the rioting. It’s hard to say if sending in the moms would work but for Michael, his mother may have saved his life that day. She made sure that he was out of harm’s way and she has become nationally renowned in the process.
I watched a video of her after the episode where she spoke to CNN and when she saw the video that had gone viral, she said that she was sure her pastor would have a fit. Her language was colorful and she was not holding back any punches as she let her son know her displeasure. Toya Graham is certainly not the picture of the perfect mom that we spoke of a minute ago. And certainly an unlikely “mother of the year!” June Cleaver might come to mind for that title, hair perfectly done, a string of pearls around her neck and her handbag and heels matching. Of course her children were always well behaved and she always a smile on her face. But sometimes being a mom is messy and pushes us to do things we might not otherwise do.
I want to say that I don’t condone physical violence in any manner. But I do respect her for doing what a mother often feels compelled to do when their children are in danger. Sometimes being a mother means applying tough love, being able to make the difficult decisions to allow our children to experience the natural and logical consequences of their actions. The mother-child relationship is complicated, but love is the key.
In our scripture this morning Jesus offers to share the love that God has given to him with all of us; he tells us that we are to abide in his love. He says that we are to love one another as he loves us. Now we have to ask ourselves, how much does Jesus love us? He loved us enough to be born to a woman, be raised in a working family and then spend three years in face to face ministries sharing this message: “Love one another.” Then, as if that wasn’t enough, he was sentenced to die for a crime he didn’t commit and he laid down his life for his friends; for those who were present, witnessing the crucifixion; for those who were hiding behind locked doors, fearful for their own lives; and for all of us here today.
Can you think of someone you would be willing to die for? Can you imagine the love you feel for someone that would warrant you dying for them, allowing yourself to sacrifice yourself for someone you love? I think there are many moms who would certainly be willing to die for their child. That is love. That is the depth of love for someone and it is love that is key to our relationships.
I think that the core of Mother’s Day is a combination of love, forgiveness and thanksgiving. Regardless of whether you had a biological mother who raised you with love and care or if someone else held that role, we all have been impacted by the love of others toward us; and the love of Christ that lives inside each of us. Christ asks us to love one another as he has loved us. That is a simple but difficult request. But love is key.
Mother’s Day began as a tribute to mom, but unfortunately has been co-opted by the greeting card industry and is the third largest card holidays next to Christmas and Valentine’s Day. As with many holidays, Madison Avenue has taken it over and made the focus about profits, not the people who the holiday was created for. I think it is time for us to co-opt Mother’s Day back and make it again about love, not cards, flowers or gifts. What would happen if we demonstrated love to the women in our lives and received love from those we have helped to raise? How can we honor the women and men who fulfill the role of mother and demonstrate the love that is key?
I have a theory that God created mothers and those who serve that role because God couldn’t be everywhere. God knew that he would need someone to help him to spread the love that he gives us freely and completely. The closest I think we come to knowing what the love of God is like is the love between a parent and a child.
The modern day prophet Erma Bombeck I think puts it best in her poem “When God Created Mothers.”
When the Good Lord was creating mothers, He was into His sixth day of “overtime” when the angel appeared and said. “You’re doing a lot of fiddling around on this one.” And God said, “Have you read the specs on this order?” She has to be completely washable, but not plastic. Have 180 moveable parts…all replaceable. Run on black coffee and leftovers. Have a lap that disappears when she stands up. A kiss that can cure anything from a broken leg to a disappointed love affair. And six pairs of hands.” The angel shook her head slowly and said. “Six pairs of hands…. no way.” “It’s not the hands that are causing me problems,” God remarked, “it’s the three pairs of eyes that mothers have to have.” “That’s on the standard model?” asked the angel. God nodded. “One pair that sees through closed doors when she asks, ‘What are you kids doing in there?’ when she already knows. Another here in the back of her head that sees what she shouldn’t but what she has to know, and of course the ones here in front that can look at a child when he goofs up and say. ‘I understand and I love you’ without so much as uttering a word.” “God,” said the angel touching his sleeve gently, “Get some rest….” “I can’t,” said God, “I’m so close to creating something so close to myself. Already I have one who heals herself when she is sick…can feed a family of six on one pound of hamburger…and can get a nine year old to stand under a shower.” The angel circled the model of a mother very slowly. “It’s too soft,” she sighed. “But tough!” said God excitedly. “You can imagine what this mother can do or endure.” “Can it think?” “Not only can it think, but it can reason and compromise,” said the Creator. Finally, the angel bent over and ran her finger across the cheek. “There’s a leak,” she pronounced. “I told You that You were trying to put too much into this model.” “It’s not a leak,” said the Lord, “It’s a tear.” “What’s it for?” “It’s for joy, sadness, disappointment, pain, loneliness, and pride.” “You are a genius, “said the angel. Somberly, God said, “I didn’t put it there.”
Brothers and sisters, love is the key. Amen.
 http://www.greetingcard.org/AbouttheIndustry/tabid/58/Default.aspx Accessed May 9, 2015
 http://www.goodreads.com/author/quotes/11882.Erma_Bombeck Accessed May 9, 2015