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May 13, 2018

Sermon Matthew 8:20  . . .“Bible places:  Home”

“Bible places:  Home”

Matthew 8:20

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus.

Whether you’re young or old, there are times when all of us need a mother—like when you’re sick for the first time, living on your own.  Or when you’re going through a tough break up.  Or when you’re world is falling apart.

So what to do?  Rent a mom!  Believe it or not, for around $40 an hour, you can have your very own mother-figure to help you make tough decisions, provide emotional support, or make you a homemade pumpkin pie when you’re spending the holidays alone.

Sixty-three year-old Nina Keneally, for example, is one such “mother-for-hire.”  She came up with the idea when she realized she was constantly giving out free advice to people in her yoga class.  She said, “I’ve noticed that a lot of young people in the neighborhood wanted to talk to me about what was going on in their lives.”  

And, by the way, she is very well qualified.  Not only has she made dinner most nights, attended countless Little League practices and games, helped with homework, and served on the PTA, she worked for seven years as a drug and alcohol rehabilitation counselor.  

Her motto is:  “Good judgment comes from experience, and experience comes from bad judgment.”

Need more information?  You can reach her anytime at needamomnyc.com.

Home matters.  Think of the many ways we use the word “home.”  In the Fall, many high schools and colleges celebrate “homecoming.”  In school we have a “homeroom,” and teachers give us “homework.”  Some students are even “homeschooled.”  On our computer, we have a “homepage.”  Ships have a “homeport.”   If we’d rather stay at home, some might call us a “homebody.”  If we’re without a home, we’re “homeless.”  Our nation provides “homeland security.”  The end of a journey is called a “homestretch.”  If we’re far from home, we might get “homesick” (though a new place can become a “home away from home.”)  When we’re old, we might go to a “nursing home.”  And when we die, we go to a “funeral home.”

Even in sports, there’s a “home team.”  In baseball, there’s a “home plate.”  Make a good hit, and you just might get a “homerun.”

Laura Ingalls Wilder once said, “Home is the nicest word there is.”  And poet John Payne once wrote, “Be it ever so humble, there’s no place like home.”

The Bible talks quite a lot about homes too.  Moses said in the book of Deuteronomy, “Teach these commands to your children.  Talk about them when you walk along the road, and when you sit at home.”  In the book of Acts, Priscilla and Aquila invited the apostle Paul into their home.  In the book of John, Jesus said, “In My Father’s house are many mansions, (many homes).  I go there to prepare a place for you.”  And Proverbs chapter 3 says, “The Lord’s curse is on the house of the wicked, but He blesses the home of the righteous.”

And as we celebrate Mother’s Day, we can’t help but think of home.

How do you know you’re a mother?  You offer to cut up other people’s food…You hope ketchup is a vegetable, because it’s the only one your kids will eat…You read that the average five-year-old asks 492 questions a day, and you feel proud your child is above average…You count the sprinkles on each cupcake, just to be sure they’re all equal…You hire a sitter because you can’t remember the last time you went out with your husband, then you spend half the night talking about your children…And you say at least once a day, “I’m not cut out for this job,” but you wouldn’t trade it for the world.

But think of the things our mothers teach us.  They teach us about religion:  “You better pray that will come out of the carpet!”  They teach us about weather:  “Your room looks like a tornado went through it!”  They teach us about anticipation:  “Just wait until your father gets home!”  They teach us about stamina:  “You sit there until all your spinach is gone!”  They teach us about irony:  “Keep crying, or I’ll give you something to cry about!”  And they teach us wisdom:  “When you get to be my age, you’ll understand.”

The Bible has a lot to say about mothers.  Ruth was a widow, a stranger in a strange land.  Then she met and married a man named Boaz and became the great-great grandmother of a king.  A woman named Hannah prayed to have a son.  Her prayers were so fervent, a priest named Eli thought she was drunk.  When she finally had a son, she named him Samuel, then gave him to the Lord.  A widow and her son had barely enough grain to survive.  But she trusted God and saved the life of the prophet Elijah.  A woman named Elizabeth bore John, even in her old age.  Mary, the mother of Jesus, was given the grace to bear the Savior.  And a grandmother named Lois and a mother named Eunice taught their little boy the Christian faith.  So wrote the apostle Paul in his letter to a pastor named Timothy.  He said,  “I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am convinced, now lives in you too.”

Luther, in his Large Catechism, said something about mothers.  He wrote:  “God has given this walk of life, fatherhood and motherhood, a special position of honor, higher than that of any walk of life…He distinguishes father and mother above all other persons on earth, and places them next to Himself.”

What does that mean?  It means that there is no higher vocation than being a mother.  You could be a teacher.  Teachers are important.  But what do teachers do?  They assist parents in teaching their children.

You could be a doctor.  Doctors are important.  But who does a doctor serve?  Parents and families.

You could be a governor, a secretary of state, a speaker of the house, or even a president.  They’re all important in their own ways.  But they could never be more important than a parent, because their purpose is to protect and defend families—to govern society so that mothers and fathers can be mothers and fathers.  Government exists to serve the vocation of parent.

And there’s one other thing Luther said about mothers.  He called it, “a majesty concealed within them.”

It’s true that whatever you do is important.  But the greatest honor, privilege and responsibility is found in the hungry eyes of an infant, the inquisitive stare of a child, the hopeful gaze of a youth, the confident stride of a teenager, and the independence of a young man or woman stepping beyond the bounds of home for the very first time.

As one author wrote:  “The most important person on earth is a mother.  She cannot claim the honor of having built a cathedral.  She doesn’t need to.  She’s built something more magnificent than any cathedral—a dwelling for an immortal soul, the tiny perfection of her baby’s body.  The angels have not been blessed with such grace.  They cannot share in God’s creative miracle to bring new saints to heaven, something only a human mother can.  What on earth is more glorious than this—to be a mother?”

You know, one thing about every mother is true—whenever their little ones are hurting or are afraid, they always do the same thing—they get down on their hands and knees and get close to their children.  And with a love like no other, they do all they can to take their hurts and fears away.

And you know, that’s exactly what our God has done.  When He saw us, His lonely, lost children, with all our sins and shortcomings, He sent His Son to take it all away.  In an act of grace far greater than anything this world has ever known, the sinless Son of God left His perfect home above to come to earth to become one of us.  And He was born into this world, unwanted and unwelcomed, by those He came to save.

As a Child, He was laid in a manger because there was no room for Him in the inn.  As a Man, He preached salvation to the people of His own hometown, even though some refused to listen.  When He healed ten men of their leprosy, only one bothered to give thanks.  And when He confronted the proud and arrogant Sadducees and Pharisees, they plotted to put Him to death.

And then, after three years of ministry, of teaching and healing, He fell facedown to the ground in prayer, where even His dearest disciples fell asleep.  

But because of His life, death and resurrection, even we have the power to love as Jesus loved, to be the fathers and mothers God has called us to be, never thinking about ourselves, but about the ones whom God has placed into our care.

What an honor and privilege it is to do what we do, and to be what we are.

One more thing--in his book, Impossible People, Os Guiness writes of growing up, in the days of World War II, in Nanjing, China.  Since there weren’t many good schools around, his parents sent him to Shanghai.

But before he left, his mother and father took two small smooth stones and slipped them into his pocket.  And on each stone, they painted their life mottos.  His father’s stone said, ”Found faithful.”  And his mother’s said, ”Please Him.”  And for years, he said, those two mottos became the North Star of his life.  

And so it is for us.  Always and everywhere, in spite of everyone and everything, may we too be found faithful and please Him.

In the words of Proverbs 31:  “Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.  Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is greatly to be praised.”

 

Dear Father, as a mother gives life to her child, so You watch over and care for us.  Bless the women whom You have called to be mothers.  Enable them to be what You’ve called them to be.  And grant that we, their sons and daughters, may hold them in honor, love, and esteem.  This we ask in Jesus’ name.  Amen

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