Sermon for Easter 6, Year B, May 9, 2021 (Mother’s Day)

Acts 10:44-48                     Psalm 98                                              1 John 5:1-6                        John 15:9-17

          Reading the scriptures for today, Mother’s Day, I thought of their message of love and the love, and lessons of love, I received from my mother.  Women don’t play major roles in most of the stories in our scriptures – women were considered “less than” in biblical times, as they are today in many places in our world.  When reading the scriptures, it is therefore important to read between the lines and see in the scriptures the universal message that is both masculine and feminine. 

          I am reminded of a passage, found in Matthew, in which Jesus compares his love for the people in Jerusalem to that of a mother hen caring for her brood:  “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!”  Jesus says this just before he is arrested in Jerusalem, beaten, and crucified. 

          My mother loved and sought to protect me and my brothers.  She followed Christ’s commandment in today’s gospel to love.  She loved us as Jesus loves us – like a hen who gathers her brood under her wings – and with six sons, my mother certainly had a brood to gather!  In the 1st Letter of John we are told, “Everyone who loves the parent loves the child.”  Then it says, “By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments.” The reverse is also true, if we love the children of God, we love the parent – God who is our parent and our creator.

          Many of us understand unconditional love because our mothers loved us unconditionally – I certainly do.  Whether today we celebrate or remember the woman who gave birth to us or another woman who loved us unconditionally, let us give thanks to God for the gift of these women in our lives who have nurtured and sought to fill our lives with joy.    

          Jesus says to his disciples:  “As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.”  Then he says, “I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.”  Our commandment to love is not a burden; it is a gift that leads to joy. 

          Joy is not found in gifts or a special dinner, joy is found in the love that is the reason today is special.  Joy is found in these relationships of love.  Now, years after my mother’s death, I still remember the love she shared with me.  Our relationship has changed, not ended, as the love she shared with me still shapes who I am. 

          Jesus telling his disciples that he has said these things “so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete,” rings true to me as I remember my mother.  My relationship with her may have been strained from time to time, but love was always present even when she said no.  Sometimes the most difficult expression of love is to say no.  I can remember her today with joy, knowing that the love we shared continues to exist. 

          If you have the privilege of celebrating this day with your mother, or with your sons and daughters, I pray that you will remember what Jesus says in today’s gospel to his disciples.  After saying, “I have called you friends because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father,” Jesus says, “You did not choose me but I chose you.”  The love of God and the love we share with others is a gift.  And, it is a gift that is meant to be shared.  Jesus continues saying, “And, I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last.”  The fruits of love last when shared.

          In Acts, as Peter is speaking, the Holy Spirit is poured out “even on the Gentiles.”  Peter then says to the others, “Can anyone withhold the water for baptizing these people who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” So he ordered them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ.”  The people of Israel, the Jews, are the chosen people.  The Gentiles are considered “less than.”  So when they see the Gentiles receive the Holy Spirit, they are astonished.  The Holy Spirit is available to everyone! 

          Jesus, in our gospel today, sends his disciples out to love others as he loves us, “to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last.” I can relate to this commandment when I remember the love my mother shared and taught me.  In words and action, she taught me to treat everyone with respect.  She taught me that no one is “less than.”  We are all children of God who deserve to be loved. 

          I honor my mother, and God, today by loving others, by bearing the fruit of love because I was first loved.  I encourage you to do the same.  Honor your mother by loving respecting one another.

Let us pray.

          Loving God, source of all love, we give you thanks for the women in our lives who teach us how to love as you love.  Fill us all, we pray, with the love that bears the fruit of acceptance and inclusion, that our joy in life might be complete.  In your most holy name we give thanks to you for those who gave birth to us and to those who first taught us how to love.  Amen.