Posted on Mon, May 11, 2015
May 10, 2015
6th Sunday of Easter
Gospel Text: John 15:9-17 “So that Our Joy May be Made COMPLETE”
9 As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. 10 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. 11 I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete. 12 ‘This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father. 16 You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name. 17 I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another.
It is Mother’s Day, and I hope the ones they care for EVERYDAY will pleasantly spoil mom this day! The definition of “spoiled” on this ONE-day will be different for every mom and the needs they require after giving so much of themselves each and everyday.
Some churches make a big deal of Mother’s Day with decorations, flowers and elaborate celebrations. That makes for wonderful traditions and good times, but for me, as a pastor responsible for the content of worship, I look at Mother’s Day and Father’s Day as civil traditions that should be celebrated within the family. Jesus didn’t talk about Mother or Father’s Day so, I choose to wish all mothers and those who “mother” or are “care givers” a wonderful day and a big thank you.
Now I will begin my first message EVER relating the text to Mother’s Day.
But as I thought about Mother’s Day, I began to think about how our society has changed, and what is it exactly that we celebrate on Mother’s Day. The traditional thinking is that we take this day to celebrate all the work that moms do everyday to take care of the kids, spouse and house. It was perfect for me when I was a boy. After school I would come home and my mom would be there to ask me how my day was, and politely listen to my everyday drama. But not just because I have aged, I believe that our society has changed as well. I remember my mom warning me years ago that, “one day, moms will have to work to make ends meet!” She seemed to understand that the economics of our society was changing, and not for the better. In those days, paychecks went further and mom didn’t have to work, yet we had a nice house, time for mom to make great meals and even a summer week vacation at a lake cabin… aaah, the suburban life.
But as I thought about what we actually celebrate on Mother’s Day, whether years ago, or even today, what it boils down to is that we are celebrating the main “Care-Giver” in our lives. And as things have changed my mom was prophetic in her warning about how the responsibilities of the parents would change, and therefore, to celebrate our everyday caregiver, that person doesn’t necessarily mean a mom or even a woman. As we look at our society there are now many members of our families or communities that “mother” us, or are our caregivers. To me, the word “Mother” has moved from being a title or a noun, to a verb. To ‘mother’ someone is to take care of the needs of someone. And as the definition of family is changing, we quickly learn that the caregiver, or the ones who ‘mother’ us can be anyone. We have more and more situations where Grandma or Grandpa are the caregivers. We have families where even the children are important caregivers to someone in the family. We have some families where both parents are male or female; the person who becomes the primary “care-giver” may be a fluid responsibility but there is almost always a definite caregiver. So, my proposal is to change the name from “Mother’s Day,” to something like, “Care-Givers” Day. I am sure a marketer at Hallmark will think of a better title.
This brings me on to “Father’s Day.” What? Not Who? Do we celebrate on Father’s Day? In the past when TV was only seen in black and white, the Father’s role was to be the “provider.” The Father’s job was to provide the resources to buy food and clothing. To provide proper housing for the family, or provide “protection” if there was a threat to the family and when necessary, admonish the children… How many times did I hear, “WAIT UNTIL YOUR FATHER COMES HOME!?” I knew I was a dead boy walking… At least that is the “Father Knows Best” world where I grew up. When we look at the families of today, when are these roles only limited to Fathers or men? I now hear the title, “Mother Bear” being used as a definite warning to someone not to threaten my family or there will be consequences. I have even used the word, “Mother Bear” in relation to myself regarding my kids, or our church kids.
How many women in today are the providers and protectors in your household? How many men and youth have become caregivers in someway in your home? How many of us fall into both roles, moving back and forth, depending on the needs of our loved ones? The times have changed. Old titles, although nostalgic, don’t quite fit anymore.
So my proposal is to change “Mother’s Day” to “Caregivers Day,” and Father’s day to “Providers Day.” Again, I know only the Hallmark Card Company will have the ultimate say and power to make any changes like these. But if there is the possibility to make a profit, change may happen quicker than we expect.
No matter if you are talking about Caregiving or being the Provider, the focus of our efforts and energy of both titles is always on someone else. Both the Caregiver and Provider sacrifice their time and talents for the sake of someone else.
The Fruit of these efforts are can be seen in the education and maturing of our children. Family members will have the peace that knowing they will have adequate food and medical care, and the peace of knowing we are part of a community or whatever we call family or Ohana. These are the needs of all of us, no matter what our age, abilities and situations. Think about the incredible gift Foster Parents give to the children in their care!!! They are above and beyond the call of caregiver and protector!
One possible Fruit of being a Provider or Caregiver may be in knowing that someday the parent will someday be cared for as they age and develop special needs… I remind my kids that one day they may have to change MY diapers!
Of course, we all know, life is full of surprises and there seem to always be something that makes care giving or providing more and more difficult each day. This is the part that grieves me the most each day. I see seniors who live alone and barely able to feed themselves or even understand how and when to take their multitude of meds. I see children all over the island that have no one to really call Father or Mother. Just drive down around Kaka’ako, or up in the bush of Waianae.
As my thoughts have changed about what we should call “Mother’s Day or Father’s Day, Jesus also began to change the meaning of some of the familiar words he would use to describe his disciples.
It is clear; we are “slaves to sin.” But through the grace and mercy of Jesus, we have become free and the meaning for the word for “Slave” no longer remains that way because through Christ, the nuance has changed.
Jesus says that we are no longer considered, “slaves” but now the nuance of the same word has become a more acceptable, “servants.” The word slave and servant are actually the same word in Greek, but Jesus even goes on to say we are now to be considered “Friends!” This is a radical change of titles for us humans before God’s eyes. A Friend is someone of like mind and purpose. Someone we not only enjoy being around but someone who teaches us something new, makes life interesting, and someone we feel we can spend our valuable time with feeling totally safe and content… and not consider that time as wasted. Think about it, our God has redefined our relationship to this amazing level of “friends!”
Then Jesus adds this one important caveat, “14 You are my friends if you do what I command you.” I have a lot of trouble with “If, then” statements. They seem to only insinuate that “if” you do such-in-such, then you will be blessed, receive something, be promoted, excepted, etc… It is called “Works Righteousness.” But is Jesus is not talking about the 613 laws of the Old Testament? Those commandments saying we are to avoid eating shrimp cocktail, cheeseburgers and touching genuine footballs etc?
Jesus is talking about the first and second of the Greatest Commandments: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” 38 This is the greatest and first commandment. 39And a second is like it: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.’ (Matthew 22:36-40)
Jesus is our ultimate Caregiver and ultimate Provider, because as we learn to love and serve our neighbor, as God has first loved us, then we begin to be the People of God we have always been meant to be. Jesus said, “11 I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be COMPLETE.”
We serve, provide and protect with grace and mercy, because in doing so, we become “Complete,” We become “Shalom,” We become, “Pono” we become God’s hands in our work and words.
Did you hear that? Jesus has loved us beyond reason for an important purpose, so that we can be caregivers and providers! Jesus is the ultimate parent in everyway! And once someone claims us as his or her child, son or daughter, we are always considered a son or daughter. Once a mom, always a mom. Once a dad, always a dad. Through your baptism, Jesus called and claimed you as Children of God, now and forever. That is a relationship we can celebrate each and everyday! Amen.
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