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MothersDayMessage for the 7th Sunday of Easter & Mother's Day on John 17:6-19 given on May 12, 2024 at St. Luke's Lutheran Church, Richardson, Texas.

I hope you have not caused your mom as much heartache and worry as I did at certain moments in my life. I think the worst time was when I was in seminary and went on an exchange program to study in Harare, Zimbabwe.

This was in the late 80’s before cell phones and email. I would write letters, but to talk on the phone, we had to take a local ride-share car downtown and put 3 Zimbabwean dollars in coins into the payphone to talk for 1 minute.

After about 3 months there, I got malaria. I had been taking anti-malaria pills, but the local strain had already developed a resistance to them, and I needed the local antivirals. The university doctor loaded me up with quinine and other meds and I was on strict bed-rest. No one called my parents since I didn’t want to worry them.

But, one of the other students called a friend at seminary and word got out that I had malaria. One of my friends there called my parents to find out how I was doing, and you can imagine how well that went over.

Fortunately, the medicine worked. After 4 days I went back to the doctor—an elderly white Rhodesian lady, and she was much relieved that I had improved. She said, “you were a sick girl!”

Then I asked if malaria would stay in my system and recur every five years or so, because that’s what I’d heard. She slid her thick cat-eye glasses down her nose, leaned forward and said, “No honey, with the kind of malaria we have in Zimbabwe, your either cured, or your killed!” I'm really glad I didn't know that earlier! I skipped that part of the story when I was well enough to go downtown with a purse full of change to call my parents.

Maybe you have caused your mom undue worry. Maybe you still do! Or maybe now, it’s your spouse or partner or children who worry about your schedule, your travel, the kind of work you do, the kind of stress you carry, or your health issues. Or perhaps you are the worrier. You are the mom, the dad, grandparent, the oldest child, or the designated worrier, who is tracking every kid, parent, grandchild, in-law, neighbor, and friend with what’s going on.

One hopes as we grow older and wiser, we make choices that cause less worry, but not always. My 88-year-old dad thought it was a good idea to get on a ladder this past week and he now has 6 stitches in his arm. Please, do not try this at home.

I certainly understood my mom’s perspective much better when I became a parent. But we do not have to be a parent to stress and worry about those we love, and we do not need a living parent or a relationship with one, to cause those who love us anxiety and worry about our well-being, no matter what kind of relationships we have.

Maternal love can be expressed by any gender, in any type of relationship.

Even Jesus seems to worry and pray with maternal love. We can hear how much Jesus loves his disciples and all who follow them—including us. Jesus speaks this prayer aloud in the Gospel of John so we can hear him pleading with God as he prepares for his departure into death, resurrection, and ascension—he knows he is returning to God.

Jesus worries about sending us into the world without his physical presence, just like what any of us with maternal love, might pray for on the first day of kindergarten, at graduation, going on a big trip, or starting a new job. Jesus wants to know that God will always be with the disciples, that they find community with others, that they experience joy, that God will protect them, and that God has a purpose for them to discover and fulfill.

Loving us like a mother, Jesus prays for all these gifts for each one of us as he intercedes for us with God, the Creator.

As I describe the power of Jesus’ maternal prayer, I invite you to reflect on which of these you need most from God right now:

1. Jesus’ first maternal prayer is for us to remain close with God and in community with others:
I am asking on their behalf; because they are yours. 10All mine are yours, and yours are mine; Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one.

Any faithful mother knows her children are not hers to keep; they belong to God. Jesus has shared God’s love with us, and brought all of us into the love and union that Jesus and the Creator share—not as possession, but literally as “co-mmunion.” Jesus asks God to hold this union with us close in his heart—for God always to hang on to us in love.

The second part of this is to keep us in union with each other—as One “communion” here—a community of heart and mind that loves and supports one another as fellow believers. Jesus is like a maternal parent praying for all the children to stay together, to stay relationship, to be a unified body without allowing the divisions, and hatred of the world split them apart.

Is this a prayer you need Jesus’ praying for you today?—to keep you close to God’s heart, to keep you connected to other believers, to help you experience community and love?

2. Secondly, Jesus maternal love leads him to pray for us to experience joy--But now I am coming to you, and I speak these things in the world so that they may have my joy made complete in themselves.

Jesus speaks these things in the world—not off alone in private like he often prayed; he prayed in the face of death, in the presence of difficulty, and hardship, so we know that nothing in this life is more powerful than Jesus!

Jesus knows his mission is to defeat death and rise to new life, so he knows our joy is made complete in him! Our worst enemy is defeated!

So don’t let the world steal your joy. Do not let this present difficulty—whatever it is—allow you to doubt what Jesus Christ has done, and can do through you! Claim the power of resurrection! Tell whatever is blocking your path, your goals, or your trust in Jesus’ “get behind me Satan! My life is claimed, the battle is won! You cannot steal my joy!”

Every single day when my kids went off to school I said: “You are loveable, capable and valuable, and I believe in you, so make it a great day! I love you!” That was my version of “don’t let anyone steal your joy—you are already complete!” You are enough.

Do you need Jesus to pray for your joy, for you to know you are enough, for you to claim joy and experience it?

3. Third, Jesus maternal love leads him to pray for our protection from evil- I am not asking you to take them out of the world, but I ask you to protect them from the evil one. As you have sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world.

I can imagine that every single day, multiple times a day, my mom was praying for my protection and safety when I was in Zimbabwe, and she did that everyday no matter where I was. Jesus prays for our protection—not from a single evil being, but from everything in the world and of the world that is opposed to God and God’s kingdom of love and justice.

This includes anything whether civil, religious, social, or cultural, that promotes division, hatred, violence, hunger, and other ills contrary to the beloved community. This is not just so that evil will pass us by, but so that we are freed to live out and embody God’s dream for our life—thy will be done, thy kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven. Eternal life began with Jesus’ resurrection, and this Spirit fills us today! The love, joy and peace of eternal life is now.

Do you need Jesus to pray for your protection? To shift or end relationships, or work, or activities that are not life-giving so that you can live in the peace, love and joy of God’s unconditional love today?

4. Finally, Jesus maternal love leads him to pray for God to help us know the Word and fulfill our mission

As you have sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify myself, so that they also may be sanctified in truth.

Jesus prays for us to know the truth of God’s of Word. Jesus himself is God’s Word made flesh and he was “sanctified” that is, set apart to reveal the truth of God’s love for us.

Now he has set apart his followers—today that’s you and me—to fulfill that same mission. Jesus sends us into the world with a purpose—to make it known that God loves everybody!---No exceptions!

We all can share God’s love in different ways in line with our gifts and purpose. It may be in our parenting, or in the integrity and honesty with which we do our work, in our willingness to serve others, and certainly by how we live as this community of Christ.

Do you need Jesus praying for you about your purpose and how God calls you to share this tremendous unconditional love?

Jesus loves us like a mother. And in so doing, he shows us how to turn our worries into prayers.

Jesus is praying for you today. No matter what you need—whether it is one of these four blessings or something else—let Jesus know about it now, as you come to the table.

This is where Jesus feeds us with his own body (talk about motherly love!); Jesus envelops us with maternal love, and no matter where we have been or what we have done, Jesus always welcomes us home.

So, (try to) stop worrying, and come to the table. It’s time for supper—Our Lord’s Supper, where life is abundant, and love and grace overflow.

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