Fifth Sunday of Easter

Readings for 5th Sunday in Easter – Mother’s Day

Luke 1:26-47 Every Mother’s Pleabible

26 God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27 to a virgin. She was engaged to marry a man named Joseph from the family of David. Her name was Mary. 28 The angel came to her and said, “Greetings! The Lord has blessed you and is with you.”

29 But Mary was very startled by what the angel said and wondered what this greeting might mean.

30 The angel said to her, “Don’t be afraid, Mary; God has shown you his grace. 31 Listen! You will become pregnant and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of King David, his ancestor. 33 He will rule over the people of Jacob forever, and his kingdom will never end.”

34 Mary said to the angel, “How will this happen since I am a virgin?”  35 The angel said to Mary, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will cover you. For this reason the baby will be holy and will be called the Son of God. 36 Now Elizabeth, your relative, is also pregnant with a son though she is very old.  

Everyone thought she could not have a baby, but she has been pregnant for six months. 37 God can do anything!”   Mary said, “I am the servant of the Lord. Let this happen to me as you say!” Then the angel went away.

39 Mary got up and went quickly to a town in the hills of Judea. 40 She came to Zechariah’s house and greeted Elizabeth. 41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the unborn baby inside her jumped, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42 She cried out in a loud voice, “God has blessed you more than any other woman, and he has blessed the baby to which you will give birth. 43 Why has this good thing happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me? 44 When I heard your voice, the baby inside me jumped with joy. 45 You are blessed because you believed that what the Lord said to you would really happen.”

46 Then Mary said, “My soul praises the Lord; my heart rejoices in God my Savior, because he has shown his concern for his humble servant girl. From now on, all people will say that I am blessed, because the Powerful One has done great things for me. His name is holy.” 

 

John 14:1–12  Jesus the way to the Father

14  1Jesus said, “Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust in me. There are many rooms in my Father’s house; I would not tell you this if it were not true. I am going there to prepare a place for you. After I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me so that you may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.”

Thomas said to Jesus, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going. So how can we know the way?”

Jesus answered, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. The only way to the Father is through me. If you really knew me, you would know my Father, too. But now you do know him, and you have seen him.”

Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father. That is all we need.”

Jesus answered, “I have been with you a long time now. Do you still not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. So why do you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Don’t you believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words I say to you don’t come from me, but the Father lives in me and does his own work. 11 Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me. Or believe because of the miracles I have done. 12 I tell you the truth, whoever believes in me will do the same things that I do. Those who believe will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.

 

1 Peter 1:3,12-13, 2:1–10  God’s chosen people, a royal priesthood

1  Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. In God’s great mercy he has caused us to be born again into a living hope, because Jesus Christ rose from the dead. 12 Those who preached the Good News to you told you those things with the help of the Holy Spirit who was sent from heaven—things into which angels desire to look.  So prepare your minds for service and have self-control. All your hope should be for the gift of grace that will be yours when Jesus Christ is shown to you.

2 So then, rid yourselves of all evil, all lying, hypocrisy, jealousy, and evil speech. As newborn babies want milk, you should want the pure and simple teaching. By it you can mature in your salvation, because you have already examined and seen how good the Lord is.

Come to the Lord Jesus, the “stone”  that lives. The people of the world did not want this stone, but he was the stone God chose, and he was precious.

You also are like living stones, so let yourselves be used to build a spiritual temple—to be holy priests who offer spiritual sacrifices to God. He will accept those sacrifices through Jesus Christ. The Scripture says: “I will put a stone in the ground in Jerusalem. Everything will be built on this important and precious rock. Anyone who trusts in him will never be disappointed.”

This stone is worth much to you who believe. But to the people who do not believe, “the stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.”  Also, he is “a stone that causes people to stumble, a rock that makes them fall.”

They stumble because they do not obey what God says, which is what God planned to happen to them.

But you are a chosen people, royal priests, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession. You were chosen to tell about the wonderful acts of God, who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 10 At one time you were not a people, but now you are God’s people. In the past you had never received mercy, but now you have received God’s mercy. 

 

Psalm 32:1-6a

 Happy are those whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.

1     Happy are those to whom the Lord imputes no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit.

3     While I kept silence, my body wasted away through my groaning all day long. 

4     For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer.

5     Then I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not hide my iniquity;    I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,” and you forgave the guilt of my sin.

6     Therefore let all who are faithful offer prayer to our God. 

 

 

The Grace and Peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.  Luke writes in his Gospel, ‘Mary said, “My soul praises the Lord; my heart rejoices in God my Savior, because he has shown his concern for his humble servant girl.”’

Let’s  join in a word of  prayer:   Father of life, grant that today, our worship will reflect the true devotion of our hearts.

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David:0414521661

Reveal to us your concern for us, Father, and fill our hearts with praise.  Guide our time, even in our imposed isolation, as we celebrate your concern for every mother, and for their husbands and children too.  Fill us with your Spirit so that we rejoice over your concern demonstrated by your plan for our lives. Gracious heavenly Father, hear our prayer for the sake of our risen Saviour,  Amen.

 

Sermon for 5th Sunday of Easter – Mother’s Day

  A four-year-old and a six-year-old presented their Mom with a lovely house plant. They had used their own money and she was thrilled. The older of them said with a sad face, “There was a bouquet that we wanted to give you at the flower shop. It was real pretty, but it was too expensive, and Dad said “no”.  It had the prettiest ribbon on it that said, ‘Rest in Peace,’ and we thought it would be just perfect since you are always asking for a little peace so that you can rest.” (Source unknown)

Even in the midst of his own hardship, Jesus gives us words of peace to provide a rest from anxiety: ‘Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me.’   Jesus was giving us a focus for our attention to give us hope even in the hardship of living in a broken world.  Hardship has a way of drawing our attention away from Christ. Pain slows us down. Very few of us, after facing a challenge to our Christian living, come out the same as when we entered in. Jesus understood this and tried to prepare his disciples, and us, for the road ahead.  The most striking example of adapting to the challenges of living with the ups and downs of life is the mother of Jesus, Mary.

Mary, the very human mother of Jesus, began her journey of motherhood with the visit of the Angel Gabriel.   The angel came to her and said, “Greetings! The Lord has blessed you and is with you.”  Mary began that dialogue with anxiety, wondering what the angel could want with her.  And she concluded the dialogue with words of faith.   Mary said, “I am the servant of the Lord. Let this happen to me as you say!”

Later, Mary quietly celebrated the birth of her son with dignity and grace.  While the shepherds went away telling others what the angels had said about this child, Mary treasured these things in her heart and continued to think about them.  (Luke 2:19 NCV)

She endured the uprooting of her family three times, when she and her husband Joseph were forced to go to Bethlehem to register for the census, and then to flee to and return from Egypt with a youngster to escape the jealous wrath of King Herod.  ‘An angel of the Lord came to Joseph in a dream and said, “Get up! Take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt, because Herod is starting to look for the child so he can kill him. Stay in Egypt until I tell you to return.”  So Joseph got up and left for Egypt during the night with the child and his mother.  And Joseph stayed in Egypt until Herod died.’ (Matthew 2:13–15 NCV)

Mary demonstrated her motherly care for Jesus when he came up missing on a family trip.  ‘When Jesus was twelve years old, they went to the feast as they always did.  After the feast days were over, they started home. The boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but his parents did not know it.  Thinking that Jesus was with them in the group, they travelled for a whole day. Then they began to look for him among their family and friends.  When they did not find him, they went back to Jerusalem to look for him there. After three days they found Jesus sitting in the Temple with the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. When Jesus’ parents saw him, they were astonished. His mother said to him, “Son, why did you do this to us? Your father and I were very worried about you and have been looking for you.”   Jesus said to them, “Mother, why were you looking for me?  Didn’t you know that I must be in my Father’s house?”’  (Luke 2:42–50 NCV)

Mary urged her son on to his mission in life, in the midst of a wedding they were celebrating together.  ‘There was a wedding in the town of Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, and Jesus and his followers were also invited to the wedding. When all the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no more wine.” Jesus answered, “Dear woman, why come to me? My time has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you to do.” (John 2:1–5 NCV)  And of course, Jesus listened to his mother and turned water into wine for the guests at the wedding.

Mary stood by her son, Jesus, in his darkest moments of his crucifixion.   And she became the mother of an adopted son, the Apostle John, when Jesus spoke to her from the cross.  ‘Standing near his cross were Jesus’ mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene.  When Jesus saw his mother and the follower he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Dear woman, here is your son.”  Then he said to the follower, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, the follower took her to live in his home.’ (John 19:25–27 NCV)

She was present with Mary Magdalene to witness the empty grave where they laid her son after his suffering. ‘The day after the Sabbath was the first day of the week. At dawn on the first day, Mary Magdalene and another woman named Mary (whom we identify as the mother of Jesus) went to look at the tomb.  An angel of the Lord came down from heaven, went to the tomb, and rolled the stone away from the entrance. Then he sat on the stone. 

The angel said to the women, “Don’t be afraid. I know that you are looking for Jesus, who has been crucified. He is not here. He has risen from the dead as he said he would. Come and see the place where his body was.’  (Matthew 28:1–6 NCV)

And I am convinced Mary was there in the upper room with the Disciples when Jesus appeared to them saying “Peace be with you.”  She pulled her sons together after the resurrection of Jesus, and gathered them in the upper room for prayers of thanksgiving that opened up the way for the infilling of the Holy Spirit.  ‘The followers went back to Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives (after the ascension of Jesus). When they entered the city, they went to the upstairs room where they were staying. (The Disciple) were all there.  They all continued praying together with some women, including Mary the mother of Jesus, and Jesus’ brothers.  When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a noise like a strong, blowing wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting.  They saw something like flames of fire that were separated and stood over each person there. They were all filled with the Holy Spirit.’  (Acts 1:12~2:4 NCV)

What a testament of motherhood.  Motherhood through all the challenges and changes in the lives of their children.  Motherhood in the presence of God our Saviour.  Motherhood in the grace of God our Father. 

As we journey with God, I am sure our mothers would smile, as we discover greater maturity of our faith and devotion fulfilled in our lives.  As long as we live, there is still more that our Saviour wants to bless in us.  There is still more the Holy Spirit wants to accomplish in us. And one day we will be present before God our Father in all our weakness, yet complete and holy, because of Christ Jesus.  We can’t hide anything from God our Father, but he still loves us because of the sacrifice of his Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.  He loves us even more than our mothers love us, in spite of our shortcomings. Just like the old saying, “you can fool some of the people all the time, and all the people some of the time, but you can’t fool mom.”  And mom still loves you.

One young mother filled with despair, went to her grandmother and told her about her life and how things were turning out so bad for her – her husband had an affair and she feared she would be left alone to raise her three children.  She did not know how she was going to cope and just wanted to give up. She was losing her faith in the goodness of life and was tired of struggling. It seemed as soon as one problem was solved, a new one took its place.  With a compassionate smile, her grandmother took her to her warm and cosy kitchen. She filled three pots with water and placed each on a high fire. Soon the pots came to boil. In the first she placed a few carrots, in the second she placed a couple of  eggs, and in the last she placed ground coffee beans. She let them sit and boil; without saying a word.

In about twenty minutes she turned off the burners. She fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. She pulled the eggs out and placed them in another bowl. Then she ladled the coffee out and placed it in a mug.

Turning to her granddaughter, she asked, ‘Tell me what you see.’  ‘Carrots, eggs, and coffee,’ the young mother replied.  Her grandmother brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did and noted that they were soft and mushy. The grandmother then asked the granddaughter to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the overcooked hard boiled egg.   Finally, the grandmother asked her granddaughter to sip the coffee. The granddaughter closed her eyes as she tasted its rich aroma. The granddaughter then asked, ‘What does it mean, grandmother?’

With a mother’s compassion and love, her grandmother explained that each of these objects had faced the same adversity: boiling water. Each reacted differently. The carrot went in strong, hard, and proud. However, after being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak. The egg had been fragile. Its thin outer shell had protected its precious interior, but after sitting through the boiling water, its inside became hardened. The ground coffee beans were unique, however. After they were in the boiling water, they  changed the water

With a mother’s wisdom, she asked her granddaughter “Which are you?”  “When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean?  Ask yourself, my dear: Which am I? Am I the carrot that seems strong.  But with pain and adversity, do I wilt and become soft and lose my strength?

Am I the egg that starts with a soft heart, but changes with the heat?

Did I have a caring spirit, but after hardship or challenge, have I become hardened and stiff? Does my shell look the same, but on the inside am I bitter and tough with a stiff spirit and hardened heart?

Or am I like the coffee bean? The bean actually changes the hot water, the very circumstance that brings the pain. When the water gets hot, it releases the fragrance and flavour. If you are like the bean, when things are at their worst, you let Jesus help you gain strength and change the situation around you. When the hour is the darkest and trials are their greatest, do you let the Holy Spirit elevate you to another level?

My dearest granddaughter, may you have enough happiness to make you sweet, enough trials to make you strong, enough sorrow to keep you human and enough hope to give you strength during times like these. All to make you the best mother that God wants you to be.”

As the granddaughter listened with an open heart, her demeanour softened, her eyes smiled through a tear, and she sought the arms of her grandmother for a reassuring caress of a mother’s love.  (adapted from NewsLinQ)

I suspect that most Christian mothers would be among those who would quote today’s Gospel to us,  “Don’t be troubled. You believe in God, now believe also in Jesus Christ.”  “He is the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through him.”

The only remedy that we find in this broken world for that empty anxious feeling when things don’t work out the way we intend, is to trust in our Saviour.  As Jesus says, “You trust God, now trust me.”

This morning, let us all pray that our trust in Jesus Christ will remain strong.  Our faith in a loving God will remain steady.  Our passion will be kindled by the Holy Spirit to care for each other and reach out to our neighbour with enthusiasm, especially in these trying times.  And our hope in the plan of Christ Jesus will remain a constant joy in our lives.    

As we celebrate Mother’s Day today, may the grace and peace of God keep our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.   AMEN.

Rev. David Thompson.

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