Sermon – 05-10-20 – Fifth Sunday of Easter – Cycle A
Scriptures: Acts 7:55-60, Psalm 31:1-5, 15-16, 1 Peter 2:2-10, John 14:1-14
Sermon Title: “The Mother In Our Lives”
The term “Mother” is in the title of this sermon because it is Mothers Day. However, from this point on, I will be thinking “Parents.” May all families have a joyous day today! That could be an obnoxious thing to say. A large percentage of families are suffering today – it will not be floating bubbles of joy. May God provide love and joy in the midst of suffering.
It seems to me that three threads run through a happy family: love, forgiveness, and faith. The faith is something to which we can cling. Rocks and stones appear throughout the Bible sometimes as helpful symbols, sometimes as hurtful symbols. We have the hymn, “Rock of Ages, Cleft for Me.” We will explore some of these rock and stone references as we move through our scriptures today. Faith is akin to hope. I have been seeing the word hope in newspaper and magazine articles. Hope is founded on what is expected on the other side of the mountain or at the end of the rainbow or in our Lord Jesus Christ.
Love is a powerful, unseen power for good, for “getting along,” for transformation. As we sometimes say, “Love can move mountains.” Love can also trickle along like a tiny little stream but leaves an impression as it goes.
Now forgiveness is the hard one. Forgiveness is so hard. I personally try to avoid conflict so there does not need to be a forgiveness scene. We will find sometime extreme forgiveness scenes in our scripture lessons today.
Can every home be happy? Is there hope for joy in every home? Think about your home growing up. Would you say it was a lighthearted place to be? Or would you rather not have returned at the end of the day? In a home who can make a difference about the atmosphere? How can one person make a difference for the better? Let’s step into our holy book for a look.
John 14 finds Jesus in the Upper Room at the last supper before his trip to the cross begins. He is trying to explain things to the eleven disciples. Judas has already left to do his designated task. It seems to me that the last supper lasted long enough for three meals. Jesus talked so much and prayed so long. One of the neat promises that Jesus shares is that he will live after his ordeal. He will be called to the Father in heaven. He will prepare a place for each and every one of them and therefore for us.
Jesus declares that the disciples know the way. Thomas speaks up, “We do not know the way.” Jesus counters that statement with “Well you know me. I am the way!” Jesus continues, “Not only am I the way. I am the truth and the life on top of that!” Jesus goes on to mention that he and the Father are one; they are in each other. That is the extreme case of parent and child getting along with each other and being like each other.
Then Jesus gives us the whopper. Whatever we ask in Jesus name, he will do! In Jesus’ name, we pray. “Take it to the Lord in prayer,” we say. Do we take it to the Lord in prayer? Are we regular in our time with Jesus in prayer, not only when trouble raises its ugly head? Regular, over and over, thank you Jesus, help me Jesus, what a beautiful sunrise, Jesus, how am I going to pay the taxes, Jesus, what are you saying, Jesus, you say why was I not listening? Oh!
Well, Stephen was listening to Jesus. Stephen became part ot the beginning church of Jesus Christ after Jesus had left the earth to go to his Father’s home. But Stephen had heard the message. Jesus is the Son of God! Jesus is our Savior! Stephen was so filled with the Holy Spirit that he saw Jesus standing at the right hand of the Father surrounded by glory, whatever glory looks like. But the Jewish people did not want to hear about this glory. They started stoning Stephen. Stoned him to death as a matter of fact. Through this terrible scene, did you hear what Stephen said to Jesus. “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” Then he knelt down and cried out in a loud voice “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” Then he died.
We know those words from the cross. “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Yes, you are right. Jesus says these words of forgiveness. Lately, I have been reading about groups of people who are wronged. Instead of revenge, they choose forgiveness against these enemies and now they are no longer enemies. In a family, wounds can be healed with the salve of the words, “I am sorry, forgive me.” While witnesses wait without breathing, they finally here the hurt person say, “I forgive you.” Maybe an emotional hug, maybe not. But the words are out there. The words were heard. Love can move into that empty space where it can grow and spread.
I mentioned stones. What do stones have to do with family life? Stones can be tiny or huge. Stones in creeks make the moving water sing. Stones can designate borders to make boundaries clear. Stones can be deadly weapons. Think Stephen. Remember little David and the Giant and the little stone. On the other hand, I have a stone on which one of you painted a cheerful flower for me. Stones can serve as foundations. Stones can fill empty spots to make them safe. Stones are used to keep weeds from growing around houses.
Moving to big stones. When life goes awry, the image of a big rock is unmovable, dependable, something solid when we feel we are in quicksand. You may remember that Jesus named Peter The Rock of the Church of Jesus Christ. Peter did live up to that image. Ever since Easter we are reading about Peter winning souls to be baptized in the name of Jesus and the Father and the Holy Spirit.
Well this same Peter lives to approximately the year 60 AD. That is about 30 years after Pentecost. He has accumulated much wisdom and lost some of his impulsiveness. He is experiencing success in building the church of Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit. His writings near the end of his life are filled with guidance for the church, for the holy people. He is not taking credit. He is saying that Jesus Christ is the living stone. He uses earlier words from Isaiah 28:16, “See I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious; and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.” And from Psalm 118:22, “The stone the builders rejected has become the very head of the corner.”
Yes, the cornerstone. A stone sitting on the corner of the sidewalk? No, the most important stone in the building. Jesus is the Cornerstone of our faith. Not only is he the guiding stone for the church, Jesus is the stone on which we build our own lives and on which we build our family.
Jesus is truly the way, the truth and the life. How can he be that if he is a stone? He is a living stone and Jesus wants us to be living, loving stones not to be filling empty spaces but to be walking and talking and being witness by our lives, within our families and without, once we are free to be in community once again. As witnesses we shall remember the praying. Don’t worry and fret. Our praying to Jesus is the salve that will bring life abundant to our families and neighborhoods. Amen