Sermon for May 9, 2021 “Mother’s Day”

“Abide in Love”

John 15:9-17

 

A couple was moving across the country. They decided to drive both cars. Their 8-year old son Jonathan worried. “How will we keep from getting separated?”

Dad reassured him, “We’ll drive slowly. One car can follow the other.”

“But what if we DO get separated?” Jonathan persisted.

“Well, then I guess we’ll never see each other again,” Dad joked.

Jonathan quickly answered. “Then I’m riding with Mom.”

I guess that that put dad in the pecking order of things… Today is Mother’s day and so I wanted to acknowledge the moment.

 

If you study the history of Mother’s Day, you will discover that the idea became most popular beginning in 1907, Anna Jarvis, from Philadelphia, wanted to honor her mother for all that she had done in her lifetime, and all that she meant to her. Anna asked the minister in her mother’s church, a Methodist Episcopal Church in Grafton, West Virginia, to offer up a sermon in her Mom’s memory; on the 2nd Sunday in May. This was the anniversary of her mother’s death. The minister did so — remembering all the mothers around the world in this first special Mother’s Day service.

 

In 1910 the governor of West Virginia proclaimed the second Sunday in May as “Mother’s Day”. The following year, every State celebrated Mother’s Day. It took another four years (1914), when President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed Mother’s Day as an official Holiday in the United States.

 

So all that followed is largely the result of one mother’s life of love, faith, and godly devotion, and a daughter who felt moved to want her life remembered and celebrated. This is an illustration in the difference that real love makes.

    

Today we hear in John’s gospel the reminder to abide in love. Our scriptures talks about this active love within life that makes a difference. This love is described as being in four basic directions.

    The Father loves the son.

        The son loves his disciples.

            We are to love and follow Christ.

                We are to love one another.

Today as we consider the difference in life that love has and does make I want us to think about these four directions of Gods love.

 

First the passage speaks of the love of God for the Son. “As the Father has loved me, Jesus said, …so I love you… Within the mystery of God, we learn that the source of true love is God, and it is within God.

 

At least twice within the scriptures a voice from heaven is heard saying this is my beloved son with who I am well pleased. From that love that dwelt within Christ, he lived a life of radical obedience to God, and revealed to us the true nature of God.

 

Philippians speaks of this love and obedience within Christ when it states, “And being found in human form he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross. Therefore, God highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow and every tongue confess the Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

 

God’s love is seen by the manner in which the Father glorified the Son. In Jesus, God and God’s love are made known to us.

 

When you were younger did you ever pull the petals off a flower saying, “Loves me loves me not?” How do you know true love when you see it? It is a difficult question, but I will suggest to you that if one desires to understand true love even on a human scale than one must contemplate the deep nature of God’s love within Christ. Is the love of another like that love found in Christ? This love may be beyond our complete comprehension, but it is not beyond our participation. In God’s presence we are called to share in this love.

 

Secondly, we recognize that the love of God is the same love that Jesus shares with us. Jesus said, “As the Father loves me, so I love you.”

 

It is God’s love for us in Jesus that calls us friends. As Jesus said, “No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.”

 

In life we are truly fortunate if we have someone that we can name as being a best friend. Sometimes friends are hard to come by, and it is difficult to find someone who understands us, accepts us, and in whom we can place our complete trust.

In the movie “Driving Miss. Daisy”, there is an apt illustration of what true friendship means and how it changes relationships. Maybe you remember this movie. Miss Daisy was an aging aristocrat whose driving skills were becoming poor, and she needs a driver to help her get around. Her well-meaning son hires Hoke for this position of service. Miss Daisy does not like this idea, but the story tells of how these two seemingly different people came to find that they had much in common. The movie ends with Miss Daisy in a nursing home very close to the end of her life. Hoke and Miss Daisy’s son come to visit her. In his usual domineering fashion, the son attempts to control the conversation. Finally, in quiet desperation to renew her friendship, Miss Daisy exclaims, “Shut-up! He came to see me, not to listen to you talk!” She tells Hoke, “You are my best friend.”

 

Those words conclude the story of a great change in a relationship. No longer is one the servant of the other, but they are friends, and allies. These are the words Jesus speaks to each of us. You are my friend. Even though Jesus is Lord, he has named each soul who believes in him as a special confidant in the secrets of God’s kingdom –“All that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.” The Lord’s desire is to treat each of us as a best friend. The great love of God has promoted us from being servants to being friends. Jesus also said that if we ask anything in his name it will be given to us. Perhaps one may not be able to count on a stranger for help, but God’s wish to answer every prayer offered up according to His will for our lives. This is a true friendship.

 

In light of God’s great love for us how shall we respond? Thirdly we are instructed to abide in the love of Christ and follow his commandments. There is to be love and obedience on our part for Christ.

 

We may wonder how it is possible for us to love God when we have not seen God, but if you consider all that God has already done for us; one must wonder how it is possible not to love God. Even while we were dead in our sins, and creatures of our own desires and pride, God has loved us and as we respond to that love, God redeems us, and calls us to become fully sanctified in His Presence. It is by the power of God’s love that we are called and made able to abide in love and to be faithful to the teachings of Christ. Jesus said, “If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love…” Through our obedience, we demonstrate the reality of God’s love within us, and share in that love every day.

 

Finally and fourthly, that obedience that God desires is that we should love one another. As God has loved the Son, the Son has loved us, and we are to love the son, so we are to continue modeling that love within our own lives as we deal with one another. In our scripture today twice Jesus told his disciple, “This I command you, to love one another.” It is easy to describe God’s love for us, it is easy in words to speak about our love for God, but our love is truly measured in how much we love one another.

 

1 John put it quite succinctly and plainly, “If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother he is a liar for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. (1 John 4:19 And again, “But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children let us not love in word or speech but in deed and in truth.

 

When I was living up in the Upper Peninsula, I had the opportunity to work with the chaplain who served the correctional facilities in Manistique and Newberry. I ended up performing a number of weddings inside these facilities. Now perhaps some ministers would not do weddings in prisons. There is no real way to know the people, their motivations for wanting to be married, what became of these unions. But, I remember Jesus said when I was in prison you came and visited me, and so I went forth looking for Jesus. Sometimes in life the best you can do is to let grace abound; believing somewhere along the way God will use the good one intends for a noble and great purpose. Occasionally you do find Jesus, even in prison. You find people of real faith and belief. It turns out that God does go into prisons and then you are glad you came. Maybe the question in life is not always “what would Jesus do,” but what would you do for Jesus? Would you visit inside a prison if Jesus were there? Would you feed the hungry if Jesus was in line to get food? Would you smile and say hello to a stranger if you knew occasionally the stranger is Jesus? Try enough times and sometimes you will find Jesus in the person you are helping or being kind to.

 

Other times you simply have to be Christ like even when people do not understand. Such is the challenge of love. It is being willing to care about people even in their imperfections.

 

The Father loves the Son. The son loves the people. The people are to love the Son and one another. By so doing the presence of God is made real. It is that type of love that we are called to be a part of. Abide in love. Ideally live out the love that your mother showed you and the truth of God will be made known. Amen.

Published by Rev. Russell

Pastor at the Lake City United Methodist Church in Lake City, Michigan.

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