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Knoxville, TN, United States
Interim Pastor of Evergreen Presbyterian Church (USA), Dothan, AL.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Mother's Day 2006

John 17 1-11
Mother's Day
James McTyre
Lake Hills Presbyterian Church
May 12, 2002, May 14, 2006

John 17:1-11. A reading from the Revised Mother's Version.

After all these things, she looks up to heaven and sighs.
Instead of having authority over all people, she has authority over two or three.
Two of them are too small to safely sit in a front seat, and one of them hasn't even transitioned to a booster seat.
They take time.
Endless time.
Morning time.
Night time.
All the in-between time.
All the time after time after everyone else in the civilized world has gone to bed.
Time to fold the underwear.
Time to pick up the movement-sensitive action figures that scream, "Hey! Wrestle this!" and shock her out of her skin at 11:45 at night.
They take the time that it takes to bake three dozen chocolate chip cookies for tomorrow's school party that she found out about at bedtime tonight.

The third one over whom she has authority is two years older than she is and thinks the world revolves around his 12-hour-a-day job.
He comes home and flops on the couch and drops his stinking feet on the coffee table that she's spent half an hour excavating from beneath mail, Barbie shoes and countless unread magazines.
What he doesn't know is that without her authority he would cease to exist, dissolving into a belching shell of a college sophomore with underarm stains and wrinkled slacks and socks that don't come close to matching.

She knows this is not eternal life, but it feels endless.
Always unfinished.
And she knows that after a few hours of sleep with one ear awake, she's going to get up and resume the work that has been given her to do,
that at some point she must have chosen to do out of love or something like it.
She is neither the Father nor the Son.
She is not completely the daughter, although she hears the ghost of her previous self in her own daughter's voice.
She is certainly not the daughter she used to be.
She is the mother.
And from her all life proceeds and to her all life shall return, usually in need of a bath or a ride to a soccer game.
She would love to be glorious.
She would love to be glamorous.
She would love for someone to glorify her in their presence, like they did in the years B.C. (Before Children, that is).
Not that she doesn't love her world.
Not that she would choose to be anywhere or anyone else.
She doesn't do it for the glory.
But for the life of her she can't remember why she does do it.
Except that maybe someday she will be glorified in those whom she has been given.
As long as she has breath, as long as she has influence, she will see that they will be protected.
If she has anything to say about it, they will be one.
She is the Mother.
Today is her day.
Tonight is her night.
And as she looks up to heaven and sighs, heaven sighs right back.
God the Father, God the Son --
God the worrier, God the provider --
God the protector, God the listener --
God the mother --
wants exactly no more and no less than she does for her family:
A kingdom come where no more will need to be done.
She is the mother.
And today is her day.

Mother's Day is one of those days that strikes fear in the hearts of preachers everywhere.
Because no matter what we say, it's never going to be enough.
And heaven help us if we say too much --
especially on a day when the average wait for a restaurant table is 10 minutes short of eternity.
I considered chucking the whole Mother's Day theme and preaching on something safe, like, Leviticus.
But today's assigned Lectionary passage, Jesus' prayer for his disciples in John 17, has so many echoes of what I know the mothers here today pray for their own children.
"I have made your name known to those whom you gave me. They were yours, and you gave them to me. Now they know that everything you have given me is from you; for the words that you gave to me I have have given to them."
"I am asking on their behalf; I am not asking on behalf of the world, but on behalf of those whom you gave me, because they are yours. All mine are yours, and all yours are mine."
And whether or not we children have always glorified our mothers in the things we have done, today is our day to see the glory in what THEY have done.

All mothers are different.
Some mothers have the patience of Job.
And some mothers have the rage of Goliath.
Some mothers bring home a paycheck.
Some mothers are doctors.
Some mothers are teachers.
Some are clerks or accountants or police officers.

Some mothers are strictly non-profit.
They administrate a home and volunteer in about five different organizations.
Some mothers can bake a dozen cookies and sew on a button at the same time and with both their eyes closed.
Some mothers are better at home maintenance and lawn care.
Some mothers can recall every minute of the birthing process in excruciating 256-color detail.
Some mothers can describe the excruciating wait and red tape of the adoption process.
Some mothers have a man around the house.
Some mothers do all the parenting themselves.
Some mothers live in nursing homes.
Some mothers are grandmothers.
And some mothers aren't so grand.
Some mothers live with Jesus in heaven.
All mothers are different.

But all mothers are also the same.
Even though they're all different, they all compare themselves to each other, and worry that something critical has been left undone.
They feel the burden of having a child that is theirs and yet isn't.
Some days the kids are a gift from God, and some days they're a curse of Satan.
All mothers would like a little more time, whether it's time to call their own, or time to correct some past mistake, or time to catch up on the thirty-thousand other things waiting on the list.
And whether they are mothers by birth, by adoption, or by association, all mothers love.
They love in times of poetry and fingerpaints.
And they love despite.
They love in spite.

In spite of the ways they had and would disappoint, Jesus loved his disciples.
In spite of the times when the glory and poetry of God's presence went straight over their heads, Jesus prayed for his disciples.
He called them his own.
He called them his children.
And in spite of their failings, he lived to instill in them something of what had been given to him.
Was he successful?
Some days more than others, as the world judges success.
In our own lives, some days more than others Jesus is judged successful at making his glory known.
And so even now, he lifts his eyes to heaven, and sighs, and prays for his children.
I would think he prays for his mothers, too.
"And now I am no longer in the world, but they (these moms) are in the world.... Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one.... so that they may have my joy made complete in themselves."
May we all have a glorious Mother's Day.
And may we all have the glory of Christ, the Glory of God, in all that we are and all that we do.
And to all you mothers out there, Happy Mother's Day.