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Marvelous Mothers

John 15:9-17

The Rev. Jon Roberts

10 May

2015

Calvary Episcopal Church

Indian Rocks Beach, FL

9 As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you; abide in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. 11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. 12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 No longer do I call you servants,[a] for the servant[b] 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. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide; so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. 17 This I command you, to love one another.

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Hush Little Baby, Sylvia Long, 1997

“Hush little baby don’t say a word,
Mama’s going to buy you a mockingbird.
If that mockingbird won’t sing,
Mama’s going to buy you a diamond ring.
And if that ring don’t shine,” well you know how the rest of the song goes.[1]

Sing to the Lord a new song for He has done marvelous things.
The question today is, “What song are you singing?” Is it truly a new song? One of the most marvelous things I can think of is the relationship between parent and child. We see this deeply, sincerely in the command Jesus gave his disciples to love one another as I have loved you. The Father loves the Son, and the Son loves us. This is a song of continuation and this is a marvelous thing we find in the dearest relationship with a mother and her child. Holding that infant in the arms, as it is staring and gazing at the world, sometimes sleeping, often times crying, she sings, “Hush little baby, don’t say a word.”
It would be wonderful to have every mother come up and share what it has been like between them and their children along every stage of their life. Instead, it may be more suitable to see it through the lens of a child, who shares with us how they described and related to their mother throughout the course of time. She wrote them down, and some of the early parts she had to imagine what she may have said about her mother:
At 4 Years of Age - My Mommy can do anything;
8 Years of Age - My Mom knows a lot! A whole lot;
12 Years of Age -My Mother doesn't really know quite; everything. Now, only two years further… at 14 Years of Age – “Naturally, Mother doesn't know that, either
Something must obviously be happening around these tender years because at 16 Years of Age -Mother? She's hopelessly old-fashioned.
18 Years of Age -That old woman? She's way out of date.
25 Years of Age -Well, she might know a little bit about it
35 Years of Age -Before we decide, let's get Mom's opinion
45 Years of Age -Wonder What Mom would have thought about it
65 Years of Age -Wish, I could talk it over with Mom

What a marvelous thing to consider, the mother’s lullaby has never changed. It is the same message. Her position to love her child remained constant. It was the child who changed. We will find the same thing to be true with the one who created mothers in the beginning. Fathers are being left out for the time being as their time comes in June. Jesus is very explicit that the Father gave Him the love to which he bestows to all of us. In that letter according to St. John, we hear these words so powerfully. He says, “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God and everyone who loves the parent loves the child and by this we know that we love the children of God when we love God and obey His commandments.” So often, the Christian faith is broken down to its rawist form, where we have come down to that simple expression of how he loves us. We go full circle from a dependent four-year old to the moment of expectancy, the hope of return to the one who bore him and to see that person again. This was the case with Jesus and his disciples, born into the world, delivered them, and taught them. Now he was gone. Can you picture them at the feet of Jesus during his Galilean ministry, hanging on his every word, questioning him when things did not make sense or whether he truly knew what he was talking about? What did he actually know about fishing? What does he really know about the troubles of this world and what these people actually go through? Like a teenager challenging the parent, but as time went on they began to change, identifying him as the true source of love.

This is where we pick up, the marvelous nature of a parent for their child, in the Gospel according to St. John. It is the continuation of the same song. When we say sing a new song to the Lord for he has done marvelous things, we are not saying his message has changed, but ours. The life of the Christian is not static. It is always on the move. Dearly beloved, wherever you are right now, whether that starry-eyed 8-year old, the challenging teenager or the reminiscing older adult child. Wherever you are, your song will be sung to glorify God and it will be marvelous. It belongs to the message of His love for you. Reginald Fuller wrote that the commandment Jesus gave to love one another was a once-and-for all statement that he made. He planted the song at that moment in our human history and we will be allowed to evaluate it over the full circle of our lives. We have to endure our trials, challenges and triumphs. All we have to do is return what he has given by keeping the connection with the parent. That, right there, is the meaning in that Psalm. Sometimes we feel it does not contain enough, so we go looking in other places for answers. You should be assured this one thing. You will return to that sweet lullaby when you get too far away, which is, “To love one another as I have loved you.”

You will find it most stirring to see the power and conviction in that same epistle that he loved us not only in the water but also in the blood. God gave this nature to our mothers who by water and blood gave you birth. This is where we find ourselves in the pews each Sunday, to find new birth; a new song. We know what we will find; what we will hear, when we arrive. We want, we yearn to hear that sweet song at the waters of our baptism and to be nourished by the loving host and the giving cup. We are creatures of rote and we love it because it relates us to God where we may actually touch the one who knew us before we were in the mother’s womb. It is an ancient lullaby, where we are hushed by the sweetness of the Eucharist and the Word. By loving one another, we are loving God and this help us to sing a new song each day and to tell of His marvelous deeds.

[1] Traditional Lullaby folksong, James Madison Carpenter, 1929 recording; https://www.vwml.org/record/CJS2/10/4501
[2] Psalm 98:1
[3] 1 John 5:1-6
[4] John 15:9-17
[5] Jeremiah 1:5

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