Tag Archives: Mother’s Day

The Fierce Love of a Mama God (May 13, 2018)

John 17:6-19

“I have made your name known to those whom you gave me from the world. They were yours, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. 7 Now they know that everything you have given me is from you; 8 for the words that you gave to me I have given to them, and they have received them and know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. 9 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. 10 All mine are yours, and yours are mine; and I have been glorified in them. 11 And now I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one. 12 While I was with them, I protected them in your name that you have given me. I guarded them, and not one of them was lost except the one destined to be lost, so that the scripture might be fulfilled. 13 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. 14 I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. 15 I am not asking you to take them out of the world, but I ask you to protect them from the evil one. 16 They do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. 17 Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you have sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. 19 And for their sakes I sanctify myself, so that they also may be sanctified in truth.

You know what’s the most ferocious animal in all of creation? It’s any mama animal whose babies are being threatened. I’d rather face male black bear than a mama possum if I got too close to the babies.

There’s a fierce natural sense of protection by mamas. They will, without batting an eye, attack anything no matter how big, if they think their babies are in danger. This is generally true for human mamas too. Think about that image on this Mothers’ Day.

Biblical gender language aside, since God really isn’t male (we all know this, right?) I think that’s the kind of maternal protection that Jesus is praying about in this text. He’s praying that God would protect Jesus’s disciples with that kind of ferocity. Like a mama protecting her babies.

Mamas don’t fiercely protect their babies so the babies can sleep in their cave the rest of their lives. Mamas protect their babies so they can learn to be OK in this world, to take care of themselves, become big bears, raccoons, sparrows, humans, whatever. It’s not just protection for its own sake, but protection with a purpose. It’s protection so that the baby can grow up and be what it is intended to be.

That’s what Jesus is praying for in this text from John. He prays that the Father (the Mama?) would protect disciples in God’s own name so they may be one in the same way Jesus and this Mama God are one. Then he prays they would be protected from evil as they go into the world.

Whenever there’s something in the Bible about “names,” it’s more than what you tell people to call you. “Name” has to do with character, the essence of the person. So protecting us disciples in God’s name has to do with protecting us in the very nature of God—Jesus’s prayer is that we be protected in this Mama God’s fierce love, mercy, grace, and compassion. That love in all its ferocity would surround us and hold us and keep us in unity with God, but also so we can venture out into this difficult world knowing we are protected in love the whole time.

This Mama God’s protection is not so we can sleep in our caves the rest of our lives. It’s not so we can be safe inside our church buildings. It’s not so we can feel safe because we know the right things or believe the right things or understand the right things. Being protected in God’s love is so we can love with this fierce Mama-love as we were created to do—as full human beings in the image of God. Lives full of love and joy and compassion and grace.

And now, protected in this love that keeps Jesus and this Mama God together in unity, we are sent into the world. Because that’s what the Mama God’s love for Jesus has done. Sent him into the world, protected in love, in order to be free to love. That’s the whole point, isn’t it? That being protected in love, Jesus was free to love us with that same fierceness.

And good thing, too. Because protected in the ferocity of the Mama God’s love, Jesus was free to love us with that same intensity. He would take on anyone, anything, if he thought it would endanger our unity with him. Even if it cost him his life, he was protected in love so he could show that love.

And since we are now united with him in that same ferocious love, we have that same protection in order to love the world the same way. We, too, are sent into the world, protected in love, and set free to love just like Jesus. We don’t have to worry about who deserves it, or who will love us back, or who is like us or unlike us, who’s right or who’s wrong. We are always protected, like a Mama’s babies, so that we can love just as ferociously.

It’s a Mothers’ Day image that is rather compelling for me. A Mama God protecting her babies with love. Jesus, united in this Mama God with love, is sent to include us in that love. So now we too, as Jesus prayed, are brought in, united in this fierce Mama God’s protection of love. And we too, knowing we are fiercely protected in love by this Mama God and Jesus, are free to venture into the world to show that same love.

Nothing can prevent this Mama God from loving us. Nothing better try, because there’s nothing in all creation as fierce as a mama whose babies are being threatened. That’s how fiercely we are loved. That’s how fiercely we are protected. And that’s how fiercely we are set free to love the rest of the world.

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Posted by on May 13, 2018 in Sermon


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Mother’s Day Sermon, Pastor Brigette Weier

TrinityIn our gospel reading this morning, we are hearing the last few lines of what is known as the High Priestly Prayer-Jesus praying to God on the behalf of the disciples and for those believers to come-namely us. These words are full of imagery of the unity, relationship and love between God the Creator and Jesus as God’s son, as well as a prayer for humanity to reflect and be this unity, relationship and love with one another. I have a picture of the famous Andrei Rublev Icon from1410 that hangs in my office (show on screen). I love this image because it shows the Triune God in this  relationship. God the Creator bowing to Jesus (God incarnate) the Redeemer who bows back to the Creator and the Holy Spirit the sanctifier who in turn bows to Jesus. Not one persons of God is more important or higher but all are equal community around the table. The three persons cannot be separated and each needs aspects and attributes of the other for wholeness and completeness. God is not complete without Jesus and Jesus is not complete without the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit is not complete without the Creator or the redeemer. But what I love even more about this icon is the space at the table that is open-it is space for you, me and all of God’s people. There is space at the table to be in full and permanent relationship in the very life of God and our presence is part of the wholeness of God. There is something of us in the very life of God that also completes God. It also reminds me that I am a part of something bigger than myself and my own little corner of the world.
In John, Jesus is naming this very reality in these seven verses. The love that flows through the Triune God in deep and abiding relationship, spills out to us…and Jesus is praying that this love flows through us to everyone in the world. This is beyond choosing to share this communal love with our biological family or just people with whom we are comfortable, but it is to share this love with whomever God gives us-places in our midst- to love, regardless if we would name them as part of our biological family or not.
We live in a culture that likes to think that there is a narrow definition for family. The word “family” quickly can conjure up images of the often idealized nuclear family, a la Leave it to Beaver or the Huxtibles. For decades, the nuclear family was perpetuated as the most stable and functional. These families were considered the most self sufficient and so no one outside of the immediate family was necessary or helpful. Some of this has, of course, been proven false over the years, and all of the different configurations of family such as blended, single parent, same gender parents, adult children living with aging parents or even three or more generations in a home are much more prevalent in the past few years and we are even seeing some of that trend finally being reflected in media culture. But sadly, it seems that there is still a loud voice in our culture that declares that anything outside of the nuclear type family leads to the decline of “these real families” even attacks the idea of stable family.
However, when you look up the definition of “family” in Merriam Websters, alongside the definition of the biological family is this one: “a group of people who are united by certain convictions or affiliation.” There is no mention of biology or DNA at all. Over and over we see Jesus’ own ministry calling into question what constitutes a family and redefining the idea of family. He speaks of families being divided and of loving complete strangers as oneself. From the cross Jesus redefines his own mother’s relationship with the beloved disciple-“Woman here is your son.” And to the disciple, “here is your mother.” It seems that DNA is not that important to Jesus as far as who is considered family. What is important to Jesus, is commitment and unconditional love to one another, who will walk the difficult journey with you,  and who will nurture you in the faith of a loving and forgiving God. What is important to Jesus is how we affiliate with one another.
This is not a definition of family that our society is that comfortable with living into. We tend to believe the culture that tells us that we can go it alone, or that we should be able to go it alone– in raising our children,  living completely independently without any assistance and also that we have nothing to offer anyone else who isn’t actually related to us.
So, here we are on Mother’s Day-a day where Hallmark tells us that we should honor those women who have children. And while we often associate this day with going to church, I want to point out that this is not a religious holiday. It’s actually a day that runs counter to God’s message of community and definition of family. Society has lifted up this day as important but in reality it can be a painful day where inadequacies, loss and grief abound. This day does not acknowledge women who have buried their mother, women who have buried their children, women who don’t know where their children are, women whose children are ill, women who did not or could not have children. It also does not acknowledge women who love and care for children that are not biologically related or who love and care for children that they will never meet or see. This day does not speak into the reality of Jesus prayer of all people being one in the life of a relational God who doesn’t care about who is actually related to whom but declares that all people are God’s very own children and so are all one family bound in love.
The church knows what the world does not-we need one another. Jesus is praying that we keep this at the forefront of all that we do as people of God-a family of God. Jesus prays that we remember that the baby crying next to us in worship is our baby to bring to faith and can remind us of joy. The teenager feeling lost and drifting in life is our teenager to walk beside and counsel and gifts us with their  young wisdom. The toddler with more energy than all of the adults around her is our toddler to chase for a bit and offers us wonder and exercise! The elderly person no longer able to leave their home is our grandparent in need of a visit or assistance and can offer us beautiful stories of a full life. The family without a home are our brothers and sisters to house and can point to our need to work for fair housing. We are not complete without one another. You are important to the completeness of my life, to the completeness of the person next you, to the people in our neighborhood whom you have never met and to God.
The kingdom of God is about family, a family that continually broadens beyond itself to encompass more people and looks for more connections in community and to be continuously connected to God. Just as in the Rublev Icon there is a place at the table for you, for me, and all people, this table right here is a concrete and real place where we can invite all people in our community to gather in the very life and presence of a gracious, loving and communal God. Today we don’t celebrate only mother’s, we celebrate all of the women in our lives regardless of biological ties, who share with us the nurturing God who created us in her image for one another, who gave us her son in order to be with us always and breathes her very life into all of us so that the world may know the name of God and the family of God. Thanks be to God

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Posted by on May 12, 2013 in Sermon


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