SUNDAY MAY 12, 2019 4TH SUN OF EASTER YEAR C- MOTHER’S DAY
Christ is risen! We are indeed continuing to celebrate the season of Easter, the central tenant of the Christian faith that Jesus of Nazareth proved he is God’s son by rising from the dead. His great victory over death is what he grants to each one of us who put our faith in him. So in a sense our future has completely changed! Our future has changed from death to life, eternal life.
Today is also a special day that falls within our season of Easter, Mother’s Day and I would be remiss not to mention the blessings of the gift’s mothers have given to us, their children. It’s appropriate to take a moment to say thanks for all those wonderful gifts. Mom’s gifts have changed over the decades from celebrating their delicious cookies and dedicated cleaning to even more diverse gifts like celebrating their car maintenance and high-powered careers. While much has changed about the role of motherhood, and mostly for the better, there is one thing that remains consistent and that is mom’s give us a future.
With the gift of our first breath of life they blessed us with a future. That future is something they continued to shape and mold for us with their nurturing, nagging, planning, booboo kissing, chauffeuring, late night counseling, and a myriad of a thousand other tasks they do for their children because they’re “Mom.” That shaping and molding of a person’s future is something I’d like to pick up today in our message.
You see a healthy maternal relationship typically doesn’t allow a child’s past mistakes to determine their future. A good mom doesn’t tell a toddler, “well you’ve fallen for the first three times you’ve tried to walk, better quit while you’re ahead.” or “You haven’t been able to learn how to tie your shoes for a week of trying I think Velcro is all you are going to be able to handle in life.” A healthy maternal relationship provides a love that continues to support and encourage a child despite their struggles and mistakes. Its that consistent love and gracious forgiveness of failures that shapes a child’s future for the better.
Our Savior Jesus himself picked up the psalmist tendency to compare God’s love to a mother’s love gathering her chicks under her wing for protection. In looking at the city and people of Jerusalem he said “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, killing the prophets and stoning those who are sent to you! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not! (Matt 23:37, Luke 13:34)
Jesus himself models this kind of mother’s love that can change a persons future for the positive. In the account of Jesus meeting the disciples on the sea shore; Jesus talks with Peter about the elephant in the room. You know how mom's have that tendency, to sit you down and want to talk about the "elephant in the room." Its like "aw mom, everythings going so great, why do you want to bring that up?!" But no, you're going to talk about it, cause momma said so. For Peter this is a big elephant issue! Peter while Jesus was on trial had denied even knowing who Jesus was let alone being his close companion. He did that not just once but three times. That was a BIG mistake at a key moment and it could have defined who Peter was for the rest of his life.
He could have been an outcast from the Christian community. Peter could have been the butt of jokes, the cautionary tale of what not to do and who not to be. Yet Peter actually became the rock on which Jesus said he would build his church. Peter had goofed up Big time and everyone knew it and it was recorded in the gospel for posterity yet it didn’t define him or control his future. It didn’t, why not? Because Jesus addressed the elephant in the room and, with his love and forgiveness, gave Peter a completely different positive future.
Three times Jesus asks him, do you love me? and when Peter says yes, Jesus doesn’t say, “I bet, first sign of trouble you’ll be saying something totally different.” He doesn’t drub him, doubt him, degrade him, or demean him. Jesus actually gives Peter a future to work toward, look forward to…”Feed my sheep.” Kind of saying, "I have confidence that you’ll move on from this failure to greater better things. I know you can do so through the love I have for you and that you have for me. I forgive you now go feed my sheep!"
This message for Peter is also a message for us. Too many of us define ourselves by our past mistakes. Too many of us don’t have the forgiveness within ourselves to allow ourselves to move toward a better future. One of the greatest gifts a Mother can give a child is the atmosphere of love and forgiveness that helps their child move past their failures. God grants to each of us, his fallen and wayward children the love and forgiveness through Jesus Christ to move forward out of our past into a glorious future.
Peter went on to be a pillar of the church that would evangelize the known world. He didn’t do that by denying his past, or burying it, but by with Christ’s help confronting it with love and forgiveness and moving forward. What a blessing to know and have that kind of loving relationship.
So many of us are blessed to have mothers, had mothers, who modeled God’s love in Christ for us. What a blessing! But what about those of us who didn’t??…you still have a great blessing the love of God in Christ Jesus. Free to all who are willing to put their faith and trust in him. For after all, Christ is Risen! (he is risen indeed) for all of us who believe and trust Christ truly rose from the dead! We have the blessed assurance that our future is in his caring crucified and risen hands. Amen.