May 12, 2013 A+D
St. John 15:26-16:4
In the Name of the Father and of the X Son and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.
This world is just plain backwards when we read in the light of the Holy Scriptures.
There is no doubt that Jesus was a prophet. But He was more than that. He was God Himself, who sees the past, the present, and the future all the time. In our text this morning, He warns of a coming, difficult time for His beloved disciples. “They will put you out of the synagogues; yes, the time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God service. And these things they will do to you because they have not known the Father nor Me.” He warns them, but He does not leave them without hope. He promises the coming of the Comforter, the Helper, the Holy Spirit.
Our Mother, the Church is attended to by the Father, in the Son, through the Holy Spirit. We take up sanctuary within our Mother, the Church, as did the disciples and the believers before us. It is within our Mother that we receive comfort and help even among the promised hardships that come upon Christians. Today is mothers’ day.
Many of your first memories of prayer and the Word of God may be from sitting next to your mother at home or at church. Maybe you remember the bedside in the evening with a little Bible story and a prayer before bed. Life didn’t seem so backwards then, when prayers ran something like this, “Dear Jesus please keep Mama and Papa, my brothers and sisters, and Grandma and Grandpa and me safe. Amen” The Holy Spirit whom Jesus sent to comfort us was at work in those bed time Bible stories and prayers. Because your mother knew the challenges that you would face while growing up she read the Bible to you, she prayed with you, she prayed for you, she brought you to church and Sunday school.
Mother church has done that and even more for us by giving us Christian brothers and sisters, God’s Word, prayer, and a whole host of witnesses. Thus, St. Peter sounds much like a prophet in our Epistle this morning. “But the end of all things is at hand; therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers. And above all things have fervent love for one another, for “love will cover a multitude of sins.” We were taught prayer by our mothers. We were taught to love by our loving mothers. It is more appropriate than we realize that God gives us the command to honor our fathers and our mothers. They are one of the vehicles that the Holy Spirit uses in our lives to keep us serious and watchful in our prayers. They are the ones who model for us that love covers a multitude of sins. There is nothing more important in the instruction of our children than Christian mothers and fathers, for bad times and serious sins will come, but the foundation that our mothers and fathers give us in the Word and in prayer is always there by the help of the Holy Spirit.
To honor your mother means to acknowledge and confess that, together with your father, she is a gift and blessing that God gives apart from and often in spite of what you deserve. Such honor is shown in several different ways. But honor always begins with listening to her, heeding what she says, and as much as possible making her word and desire come alive in what you say and do. For this is true godly honor: to love and cherish the gift of mother, father and whatever else God the Father chooses to give. For in this way you not only receive the Lord’s gift, but realize it and are thankful for it. You also confess and acknowledge that this gift comes from our heavenly Father who, from His goodness, freely gives us parents and home and all we need to support this body and life.
So why does Jesus and our holy Mother, the Church, let children suffer? Why does He allow Satan to harm us now and allow us to suffer persecution, sickness, disaster, pain, splintered families, and shame in the eyes of the world? Why does He make it seem like the world is winning? In the words of St. Peter, He does this so “that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.” In the light of Scripture, the world is backwards, even upside down. Jesus defeats death by dying. Strength is shown in weakness. The vine of the Church is made stronger and healthier by pruning.
So the Lord Jesus continues to send the Holy Spirit to speak these things to you, that you should not be made to stumble. In other words, He continues to recall you to Himself—and particularly His Holy Eucharist—so that He might give and re-give you His Holy Spirit who comforts you not just by speaking to your hearts, but by restoring your life in God. In many cases mothers are to thank for continually emphasizing the importance of prayer and public worship. (Besides Christmas and Easter, Mothers’ Day is another day when churches are fuller. It’s because mothers get to choose to take their families to church.) For it is in the public preaching and administration of the sacrament that the promises of Jesus are continually given. It’s here in Word and Sacrament that children are nourished and made ready for the trials to come.
Don’t lose heart, then, nor grow weary in doing good. Instead, continually pray to Our Father that He might make you to have always a devout will toward Him; and to serve His Majesty with a pure heart. Which means, pray that in these times, when you are beset by the evils that slowly and unknowingly eat away at your souls, the evils that cause you to stumble in your walk in Christ, and the evils that avert your eyes from the life Our Lord always chooses to live in you—pray that Our Lord not take His Spirit from you, but send Him into your hearts by His Word and Supper so that we might always remember whose you are, and continually dwell in Him by faith since He lives in you by His love.
The world is indeed backwards, but your Mother, the Christian Church will always bear witness by the Holy Spirit that Jesus has overcome the world and has freely given eternal salvation to all who believe. If your mother developed you in this faith, don’t forget to honor her by thanking her for this hope that is within you.In Jesus’ X Name. Amen.