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Honoring Mom!

May 12, 2013

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Seventh Sunday of Easter                                 Trinity Lutheran Church

12 May 2013                                                          Murdock, NE

+ Jesu Juva +

Exodus 20:12 “Honor your … mother.”


Well, there you have it.  “Honor your mother.”  The commandment doesn’t mess around.  Gets right to the heart of the issue.  This is what God requires.  This is His will.  Everyone has a mother.  And she is to be honored.

Why?  The no-brainer answer is:  God commands it!  End of sermon right?  Well, don’t tempt me.  I may just do it.  But that’s cutting it way too short.  Even for me.  There’s got to be more.  And there is.

Moms are also to be honored because they are God’s good gifts in the world.  Moms are the Lord’s instruments.  His hands.  His mouth.  The Lord uses a woman – her body — to carry, give birth, and raise children.  In the beginning God blessed the married couple Adam the man and Eve the woman with these words:  “Be fruitful and increase in number,” (Genesis 1:28).  Side note:  did you notice that in the beginning God’s good and gracious will is that only a man and a woman are to be married?  Just checking!  And it’s the only marriage there is in God’s eyes.  “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife and the two will become one flesh,” (Genesis 2:24).  In addition, and this applies to the vocation of motherhood, Genesis 3:20 states:  “Adam named his wife Eve, because she would become the mother of all the living.”  Eve’s name gives the clue to the essence of her calling.  And to all women.

So, we are to “honor” Mom because God is hidden but actively at work in the world for the benefit and well being of His creation through motherhood!  It is God who empowers a woman to be a mother.  Through the woman He creates, sustains, and raises children.  Motherhood is a divine and holy vocation!  God is well pleased with it!  He calls it “very good,” (Genesis 1:31)!

Over the past few years and months the Lord has blessed our congregation with the “very good” of motherhood and the gift of babies! It’s been quite a run recently.  Joyous births.  Many happy Baptisms too!  All because God has created a woman’s body so that a baby can be conceived in her womb.

The vocation of motherhood is all about service.  Listen to Jesus:  “If anyone would come after me, HE MUST DENY HIMSELF and take up his cross and follow me,” (Mark 8:34).  As the Lord’s instrument, Mom is the Lord’s hands and mouth so that she can serve her neighbor:  her child!  She denies herself, her needs, her wants, her desires all for the sake of her child.  She lives as a little Christ for her child.  She lives not to be served but to serve as she gives her life (time, talents, energy, emotions, health, hope, faith) as Mom for her child.  In this way the Lord gives meaning to this service of motherhood.

When Mom is pregnant she shares everything!  She shares her body, her DNA, her nutrients, her strength and her own physical space with her child.  Pregnancy, labor and delivery are very hard work.  Perhaps the toughest physical activity a woman goes through.  Mom endures it all for the sake of the baby!  Mom lives for her!

After the labor and delivery the mother continues to keep her child alive by nursing her, bathing her, and diapering her.  Mom bundles her baby to protect her from the cold.  Mom makes sure baby gets vaccinated to protect her from harmful diseases.   She does endless loads of laundry. She teaches her child how to pray.  Brings her to Holy Baptism, Sunday School and the divine service regularly so that her child is and remains a Christian.

But motherhood is very physical!  It has everything to do with physicality!  Having a baby is what her body does!  Caring for a baby is what her body and soul do! Her body cares for another body!  It includes feeding (nursing with her own breasts), handling excrement, suffering sleep deprivation, tending to high fevers, ear infections, chicken pox or the flu, cradling and cuddling with her hands and arms the baby’s little body!  Indeed, motherhood is one of the most physically and spiritually demanding vocations in the world.

However, Mom doesn’t give up.  She uses all her intellect, her soul and all her gifts as she cares and raises her child.  She feeds, clothes, washes and molds her child in the ordinary, every day, and yet very challenging tasks that too many people shun these days.  She dares to parent!  She audaciously mothers according to God’s Word.  Mom’s mothering is an example of what it means to live as a little Christ for the sake of others.

So we’re back to the Commandment:  “honor your mother.” Honor her as the Lord’s instrument to give you life and care for you.  Honor your Mom.  This is the good use the Lord has for you – His died for, forgiven and redeemed people.

Where you have failed to honor your mother, repent!  Confess your sin against your mother – to God and to her.  What’s that?  You say that you haven’t sinned against your mother?  Nonsense!  The people we sin against and hurt the most and on purpose are usually the people most close to us – the people we love the most. That includes Mom.

So use Jesus and His Blood to mediate otherwise your sin will destroy your relationship with her.  Where you have failed your mother ask her to forgive you.  And mothers – be explicit – forgive your child in Jesus’ name.  Declare Christ’s forgiveness to her.  Speak His absolution in your family as the female bishop of your home.   Tell the sinners in your family that Jesus died for their sin and that you forgive them too.

That is precisely why Jesus died!  His death has a purpose.  He died for sinners.  You’re one of His.  You belong to Him.   Since you’re His, that means you’re a sinner!  A forgiven sinner!  I tell you that Christ’s forgiveness is powerful enough to save even you:  a Christian!

Mothers, remember that you are the Lord’s servant in your vocation.  You’re not the pope infallible.  You’re not God.  You sin and violate your vocation all the time.  The little sins against your family and God are easy to see.  However, the big ones – the deepest sins — you don’t notice that often and they spring on you from behind.  “Sin crouches at the door” as God told Cain in Genesis.  Sometimes your sin flat out surprises you.  Hits you like a ton of bricks.  Catches you.  Here is what you often say to your family or to God after your sin has done its collateral damage:  “I didn’t have any idea!  I was only trying to be the best of Moms!  I didn’t know what I was doing.  I didn’t intend for that to happen!  I didn’t mean to hurt you.  I only wanted what was the best for you.”  The best of intentions sometimes have the worst affects.  And you’re crushed.  The regret.  The shame.  The guilt.

So Mom, where you have sinned against your child or your family, confess the sin – to God, to your child, or the members of your family.  Then beg for forgiveness expecting to receive it for Christ’s sake.  No matter what the sin:  the termination of a pregnancy, constant negativity, keeping score, neglect, selfishness, bitter anger, or the worship of the self.

I tell you that Jesus died for all your sin!  He doesn’t exclude any sin from His sacrificed Body on the Tree!  He never says:  “I love sinners but you’ve stretched it beyond my wildest dreams!  I died for the sin of the world but I didn’t know that you’d ever do that!”    So kids or members of the family, forgive your mother.  Tell her that you forgive her.  Don’t clam up.  Don’t slam the door to your room.  Don’t’ run away.  Don’t play tit for tat.  Don’t try to get revenge or make plans to hurt her.  Instead, forgive her as God in Christ has forgiven you of everything in His Good Friday dying.

Now, I know that Mother’s Day is bittersweet for quite a few women.  Many women can’t get pregnant.  Others have miscarried.

For you who can’t get pregnant the Lord can still use you for good – as His servant – to be a little Christ to others.  How?  By adopting unwanted or orphaned children.  All of us Christians are children of God because He adopted us.  God is our Father and we are His children through adoption.  Listen to Ephesians 1:4-5. “For he [God] chose us in him [Jesus] before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.  In love he [God] predestined us to BE ADOPTED AS HIS SONS through Jesus Christ in accordance with his pleasure and will.”

That’s pure gift!  Adoption is pure gospel!  To be adopted by God is to be saved!  You are gifted with salvation when He adopts you as His child, His little one who believes in Him.  The fact that God the Father has adopted you as His child is precisely why you are free to live out the gospel in your life by adopting a boy or girl to be your child.  In doing so you exhibit and extend the love of Christ to a child who desperately needs to be loved.

Now if you’re trying to get pregnant the Lord provides wonderful doctors, technology and medicines as His instruments.  Use the science.  Use the doctors.  However, there are the biblical God-pleasing guidelines that need to be followed.  And what would that be?  The medical treatments should be in accord with the one flesh union of holy marriage!  In other words, in vitro-fertilization is acceptable as long as the genetic material (sperm and egg) that is combined comes from both married parents!  In that way the child that is conceived is still made of the flesh and blood of both married parents.

To use a sperm “donor” or an egg “donor” (someone to whom you’re not married) goes outside the bound of holy marriage and it is a kind of adultery.  This also includes surrogacy.  Using a surrogate mother was a disastrous plan for Sarah and Abraham (Genesis 16) (despite all their good intentions) and it remains a bad idea today.  Even though motherhood begins at conception, the surrogate mother who gives birth to the child would have a conflicting claim to the child.

Please also remember that with in vitro fertilization there can be the conception of multiple embryonic children in which only one is brought to term.  The “extra” embryos are usually thrown away, frozen, used for experimentation or murdered for their stem cells.  Parents, have a divine calling to protect all the children they conceive even if it is done through in vitro fertilization.

Is it possible to adopt an unwanted frozen embryo?  YES!  It is possible to implant one of these embryos in the womb of a woman and let her carry the child and bring it to term.  This is called having a “snowflake” baby.  This does not violate the one flesh union since there was no extramarital mingling of DNA.  This is an adoption – another example of God’s love for others.  Snowflake adoption is really a rescue from certain/imminent death.

Last year actress Gwyneth Paltrow revealed in an interview that she “nearly died” after suffering a miscarriage during her third pregnancy. To you mothers who have miscarried, the Lord knows your pain and deep anguish.  Jesus’ Good Friday and Easter counts for these little ones too.  These little ones are very precious to Him.  They too are reconciled to God through His Blood.  We commend them to Jesus.  And we pray for a happy reunion in heaven and eagerly wait for the resurrection of the body on the last day.

Mothers, the Lord has good use for you.  Not to live for yourself.  That’s idolatry.  A selfish life is not enlivening.  It’s destructive.  It harms those who need your love.  Jesus didn’t give Himself into death at Calvary so that you could live like that.  The Christian life of motherhood is twofold:  faith in Jesus and then love for the neighbor.  Jesus doesn’t need your love.  But your children do!

And that’s precisely why you’re a mother.  You are the Lord’s instrument.  His hands.  His mouth.  To love.  To care for those He’s put into your life as a little Christ.  Offering your body as a living sacrifice for your children.

So children: “Honor your mother.”  That’s the Lord’s very good use for you.

In the Name of Jesus.

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