“Shepherds and Mothers and Sheep”
Sermon, May 12, 2019 by Rev Gloria Christian
Acts 9: 36-43
John 10: 22-30
“Shepherds and Mothers and Sheep”
Those of you who are mothers I want you to think back with me for a moment to that time when you first realized that you were going to be a mom. For most of us it was the dying of a rabbit…for others it was the ultra-sound as the outline of your child’s body got clearer and clear…. As I saw my grand-children’s ultra-sound and saw that tiny heart beating as if to scream out… LIFE AS YOU KNOW IT IS OVER!!!! You are officially a mom. For mothers…Some things come instinctively, caring for the newborn, how to hold the baby… but what really scared us was questions like, ”What are we going to do when they learn how to walk??? Or even worse, what will we do when they learn how to drive!?!” Being a parent was a really big deal… God is entrusting us with a life! I remember leaving the hospital and thinking… do they know us, we new mothers? Is it legal just to let us carry this baby home???? Do they know that we can hardly balance our check book??? And you know… those scary moments occur throughout our life. The first real illness or accident; immediately you head for the emergency department. The first day of school… as your little girl or little boy steps on to that bus and you feel like a part of your heart is being torn out right in front of you. The first date… when you have-to entrust your little princess to a savage idiot. ( these savages should be given an application to date my daughter) When they go off to college, When they get married, When they call you and ask if you prefer to be called, Grandma, nana, or nanny. Life as a mom is a constant roller coaster of emotions. Maybe Psalm 23 becomes a source of comfort for many mothers.
As psalm 23 moves away from the peaceful scenes with which it opens, the psalmist speaks of his absolute assurance of safety even in a valley of doubt. God’s presence with us saves us from fear. In particular, the psalmist’s comfort is drawn from the shepherd’s rod for subduing or driving away his flock’s enemies and the shepherd’s staff, which the shepherd would both lean upon and use as a means for keeping the sheep in line. The psalmist is not speaking merely of an emotionally registered nearness, but of his comfort in knowing that God is actively present in our situation, guiding us and frustrating, all of the threats of those who seek the destruction of our family. We are (rightly) accustomed to singing or praying this psalm as a private expression of God’s goodness and our trust in the shepherd and our mothers.
Scripture also teaches that God makes God’s home with us here and now. But the great promise is of the home in which we’ll have unencumbered access to God’s presence without any of the suffering, losses, and pains we know. We persevere through them with God’s help. It saddens me to know that home is not a happy concept for some people because of the pain they have experienced or do experience there. As a single parent for most/almost all, of my parenting years, my only negative experience of home is the fear that I’ll lose it. But that did not come to fruition. I did lose my parents as many of you have and that is a bit of home lost.
There is a community that gathers when someone dies, a community of mourners, a community of loved ones. When the good mother, named Tabitha died all the women that she had helped, her community of friends that were like family, gathered to mourn her. Many of these mothers were widows who would have had no community except that Tabitha welcomed them into her home. She welcomed Jews and Gentiles alike. The Greeks called her Dorcas instead of the Hebrew name, Tabitha. She did not mind…both names meant “gazelle.” And hadn’t Dorcas always been swift and graceful in welcoming a new mother, recently widowed, into her home? Hadn’t Tabitha always been gentle, quiet and quick in bringing aid to anyone who needed it? For that is what mother’s do; they care for and about others. Tabitha is the only mothering woman ever named in scripture as a disciple, not just a follower, of Jesus! Peter made his hurried visit to the deathbed of Dorcas. Yet when Peter stepped into her house, he was surround with those gathered to mourn Dorcas. They were the “sheep” Jesus spoke of in John 10. They were part of the flock who knew the voice of Jesus, who believed in the ways of God he taught, whether-or-not, they had ever met him in person. It seems to me that whether we think about being a shepherd or a mother, it is very much the same thought and in turn, we, all, are sheep who have followed the teachings of others. Some may not have been a mother, but we all have our mothers who we are thinking about today.
This Sunday is Mother’s Day, so I thought you’d enjoy this list of things our mothers taught us:
My Mother taught me LOGIC: ”If you fall off that swing and break your neck, you can’t go to the store with me,” as well as, ”If everyone else jumped off a cliff would you do it too?”
My Mother taught me HUMOR: ”When that lawn mower cuts off your toes, don’t come running to me.”
My Mother taught me GENETICS: ”You are just like your father!”
My Mother taught me ANTICIPATION: ”Just wait until your father gets home.”
My Mother taught me about RECEIVING: ”You are going to get it when I get you home.”
My Mother taught me RELIGION: ”You better pray that will come out of the carpet.”
My Mother taught me about STAMINA: ”You’ll sit there until all that spinach is finished.”
My Mother taught me THE CIRCLE OF LIFE: ”I brought you into this world, and I can take you out.”
And the all time favorite thing my Mother taught me, JUSTICE: ”One day you will have kids, and I hope they turn out just like you. Then you’ll see what it’s like! I can’t wait!”
The only, problem with that one is that we live it all again. Happy Mother’s Day to all of our Mothers. Amen.